Update: This article previously stated that TBCSA was involved in the development of the 911 Rapid Response app. This information is incorrect and has been removed.

Tourism Update reviews some of the latest technology developments and current debates in the safari industry.

An app for emergency response has been launched by 911 Rapid Response in conjunction with Nhongo Safaris with the aim of ensuring the safety of all tourists in South Africa.

Dean Cherry, Director of Nhongo Safaris, says: “We moved really quickly to release the 911 Rapid Response app after the follow-home crime the Dutch tourists recently experienced. We didn’t want there to be another case where South Africa received bad publicity without a safety solution put forward.”

The app provides the user with three alerts: one calls for an ambulance, one calls for both an ambulance and a tactical unit, and one that will contact the user’s fellow travellers should they be lost or alone.

“911 Rapid Response has entered into a contract with service provider ER24, whereby they will provide assistance to the user in the case of a medical emergency. The app is also able to offer a nationwide, armed response delivered by expertly trained personnel with an ex-military, ex-police, or ex-special ops background,” says Cherry.

Once the user selects the alert they require, their GPS location is issued to 911 Rapid Response’s dispatch office.

“Three attempts will then be made to contact the user. This is to ensure that there is, in fact, an emergency. If the user answers and says they do require assistance, or if they are unable to answer, the requested emergency services will be dispatched to the location,” Cherry explains.

Cherry says the app is aimed at foreigners but can also be used by South Africans travelling domestically. It is available on both the Android and Apple stores and costs R59 for South Africans, and $20 for foreigners, providing the user with 30 days access to its services

The app has already received international acclaim as the recipient of this year’s Google Innovation Award.