It’s called EARs, or Emergency Assistance & Response Services, to give it its full name, and it’s a nationwide personal safety and automotive assistance service, ready to aid anyone who find themselves lost, stranded or in need of emergency personal or automotive help. The service, which is subscription-based, works through means of a mobile phone, in this case an iPhone application known as the EARsAlert2, which allows users to seek for help at the touch of a button.
How does it work? Well, say you’ve been involved in an accident, and may be in shock or injured, uncertain of your whereabouts or frustrated from having to contact many different parties for help, such as family members and friends, auto services and tow trucks, among others.
The service simplifies the entire process – just tap on the icon on your phone and a signal is immediately sent within five seconds to EARs which identifies your name and pinpoints your location via GPS. You’ll receive a call from an EARs agent within a short timeframe to ascertain your condition and safety, and to confirm what kind of emergency service or assistance you need.
The agent will then contact the relevant service providers to assist you. At the same time, EARs will also alert five of your closest contacts to inform them about your situation. The service is also able to assist with police reporting, workshop coordinations for repairs and insurance claims, if needed.
In the event of a personal emergency, such as a kidnapping case, if the EARs app is launched and the person is not contactable by the agent, the five closest contacts are immediately alerted via SMS and one primary contact is contacted to act upon the situation, armed with important information like location coordinates.
“EARs was conceptualised mainly because I have many friends and family members who have experienced vehicle breakdowns or personal crimes, or who have had their car stolen,” said EARs CEO Edwin Ong. “Although there are services for each of the situations I’ve just mentioned, these services tend to work independently of one another, hence I felt the need for an all-in-one total solution for personal and automotive assistance, leveraging on a mobile device which many of us already have.”
According to the company, in 2008 there were a total of 373,047 vehicle accidents which resulted in 6,527 deaths, and in 2009, there was a 15% increase in crimes, totalling 198,622 or 544 reported cases per day – every day, there was at least one murder, 19 cases of rape and 243 stolen vehicles. Meanwhile, last year, there were 1,022 vehicle accidents per day (or the equivalent of one accident every 1 minute and 44 seconds).
“In light of statistics like these, we believe that EARs will bring great peace of mind to many Malaysians,” said Ong. “People can be assured that there’s someone they can call on at any time of the day who will be able to help them, regardless of whether they need a tow truck or personal assistance.”
The Breakdown and Assistance (BRASS) plus Personal Alert (PAL) combined packages are priced at RM75 per year, or RM10 per month. You can find out more about the service here. As for the app, it’s available on iTunes for iPhone users to download for free, and users can play around with the app in demo mode without an account. It’ll soon be available for other smartphones.