New "Cell 411" App Makes Citizen Emergency Response Easy

This app could be the future of organized community emergency planning.

Scott Macleod
Nov 17 2017, 9:00am

Cell 411 is an app that allows you to send out emergency alerts to trusted friends, family, and members of your community rather than dialing 911 for emergencies and hoping for the police to arrive. The app was built as a decentralized means of helping communities and neighborhoods organize themselves to offer each other mutual aid in case of emergencies without asking for assistance from government, police and other state agencies.

According to the website, Cell 411 allows you to create custom “cells”, groups of your friends, neighbors or family members and alert them whenever you need help; it allows users to organize themselves in regional "cells" or groups which are decentralized and managed by the users themselves. Your cell will receive your exact location with turn-by-turn directions to come and assist you.  Whether you have a flat tire, you find yourself in danger or need medical assistance, you can leverage the power of large groups of trusted people to call for help and receive it.

Cell 411 is completely free. It’s available for Android and iOS platforms. It uses GPS to ping your location when sending alerts or patrolling for alerts in your location.This allows members of the community to collaborate and address emergency situations themselves rather than turning to the authorities. You can set up large groups of people to be a part of your cell, or even whole neighborhoods. This could be used for neighborhood watch purposes, from minor annoyances like getting locked out of your house all the way up to life threatening situations. There is also a feature called Patrol Mode which allows you to send global alerts, which means you can send alerts to anyone in your locality.

The app itself was built by activists for activists. It has a live video stream interface capable of cloud storing video without the possibility of erasure. Cell 411 includes an optional “fake erase” button for situations where you are under duress or in a situation where police or other actors are forcing you to erase video. This button will not actually erase the video but it will lead coercive individuals to believe that the video is gone and allow you to escape a potentially dangerous situation.

Other features of the app include a ride-sharing option, a “Know Your Rights” menu item, QR code scanning for quickly adding friends, alerts, and chats. There is also a Spanish language version of the app. Immigrants could potentially use the app to alert their friends and family about ICE raids.

Another scenario might be needing to send out a message if you are being arrested during a protest so your friends and family know what's happening and can get legal counsel on your behalf. You can use this technology to potentially create self-policed communities, organize volunteer fire departments, or organize activist actions. The possibilities are endless.