Ever found a great deal on Craigslist, but passed it up because you’d have to go to the shady part of town in the darkest reaches of night just to grab it? I have.
It’s a dilemma that effects anyone who buys and sells things online. Or simply makes a trip anywhere. But what if there was a service which makes you check-in with it, and if you fail to do so texts a friend or family member?
That service exists, and is called Kitestring. And it’s really good. Here’s why.
Kitestring is an SMS based service which aims to make going for late-night walks and meeting up with strangers from the Internet that bit safer. It’s the brainchild of US based entrepreneur, MIT student and software developer Stephan Boyer and is ambitiously tackling a very old problem using the old technology of SMS. So, how does it work?
First, you need to sign up with your cell phone number. Then, have a think about who you want to alert, should you go missing. Then, define one or more emergency contacts. When you’re taking a trip somewhere, or doing something which has a whiff of danger, you can set up a trip and tell Kitestring when you expect to be back. Your specified emergency contacts will be contacted by SMS should you fail to check in with Kitestring when prompted to.
Kitestring is available in the US, and pretty much every other country in the world. However, do note that the number Kitestring uses to check in on you is a US phone number, and international rates will apply.
It’s a really simple idea, but solves a very real problem. But how is it in practice?
Setting up Kitestring is really easy. You sign up with your name and cell phone number. You are then provided with a verification code which you have to input in order to activate your account.
Once your account has been activated, it’s time to set up some emergency contacts. These ideally should be people who know you, and would be concerned if you disappeared into the ether.
Now it’s time to set the message which will be sent to your emergency contacts, should you fail to check in. I’m using the default Kitestring warning message, which is gloriously dramatic. However, it might be a good idea to modify this to say where you’ve actually gone, so that your emergency contacts have a point of reference to contact you.
Now it’s time to set up a trip. This step is quite simple, and just involves telling Kitestring when you expect to be back home.
Time to set off! Once the duration of your trip has elapsed, you’ll get a text from Kitestring asking if you’ve arrived home. If you’re still out-and-about, you can extend your trip by sending a text back with how long you think you’ll be out for. For example, if you’re going to be out for an additional 30 minutes, you can respond with ’30m’, and your trip will be extended accordingly.
If you get home ahead of time, you can end your trip on the Kitestring website.
If you fail to get back on time, it’ll send a message on your behalf to your nominated emergency contact. Be warned, it’s pretty bloody dramatic. It’s also worth noting that should your phone battery run out of charge, it will send the text to your emergency contacts anyway.
I really like Kitestring.io. It offers a service which aims to add a veneer of safety to meeting up with strangers from the Internet. And what’s more, it comes at a remarkably compelling price point, with no costs associated with the service, and no adverts to speak of. It is Open Source.
However, it’s safe to say that given Kitestring is a startup in its very formative stages, its pricing may change in order to remain viable.
Have you given it a go? I’d love to know what you think. Drop me a comment below and let me know.
Image Credit – Kite In The Sky (Karen Blaha)