There's been much in the news yesterday in the UK about the launch of the new Safety Text service, started by John Blackman, father of Lucie Blackman, the hostess killed in Japan. The general principle is, as stated in the BBC's article:
"Users create a message detailing their travel plans and set a time delay of between 30 minutes and 24 hours. If they have not returned and cancelled the message by the deadline, it is sent to a chosen friend or relative.....The Safetytext service stores photographs, contact details and the names of friends and relatives, releasing them to police in the event of the customer disappearing. Users can register for the paid-for service at Safetytext.com. Each message costs 50p on a pay-as-you-go basis, or 33p if paid for by monthly £5 top-up."
This is, of course, a good idea. What I find a shame is that essentially the same idea was launched in November 2003: Amber Response. Because of the circumstances and publicity surrounding his daughter's death, though, Safety Text has inevitably got a huge amount of press coverage, much of it proclaiming the great innovation. It is a great idea, and it is wonderful that John Blackman has acted to turn a personal tragedy into a positive solution, but let's not ignore who got there first, or necessarily choose a service for its press rather than its performance.