There exists a certain stigma when it comes to the idea of keeping track of your loved one’s location. People tend to associate it with the negative connotation of stalking or breaching one’s privacy. But honestly, with missing children cases increasing in Malaysia, who’s to say it’s not better to be safe than sorry?
To combat these worrying challenges, a young Malaysian startup came up with an idea to create a permission-based app to help users locate the whereabouts of their children and siblings, especially when apart from each other.
With over 400,000 downloads since their launch 7 months ago, it seems many users are beginning to appreciate the idea of this service.
Addressing Valid Concerns—The App Way.
The 13-member team behind the Funa app works under nPlay, a mobile-social networking service company that focuses on developing innovative apps and bridging mobile facilities with the world of social networking.
The idea behind Funa was born when leader of the team, Ang, stepped into the world of parenthood and began to be more aware of the potential dangers that exist around his two children as they grew into the schooling age.
As busy working parents with demanding work schedules, Ang and his wife found themselves thinking constantly about the children’s whereabouts during the day. They wondered if there could be a way to stay focused during work without interrupting the family for real-time updates. They knew they needed a good tracking app to monitor the children’s movement, and to replace the hassle and irritation of calling and messaging non-stop.
Ang decided to search the market for a good tracking app but was deeply discouraged by what he found. Most of the tracking apps in the market were difficult to use and unreliable. After conducting a peer survey and intensive research into the market, this father-of-two discovered that there was a high demand for a friendly, permission-based app for families. He took a leap of faith and decided that he would develop one himself.
Keeping Close, Digitally
With any location-oriented app, the interface has a simple layout with clear instructions on how to add your loved ones into your map. After you fill in their contact details, they will receive a request notification asking for permission to share their locations with you. Upon acceptance, you will then be able to see where they are exactly in real-time and vice versa.
The main thing to highlight here is that everything is consensual with both parties needing to have the Funa app installed on their mobile for the entire procedure to work.
I used Funa to track the safety of my mom as she travelled to and from work every day.
Funa keeps track of location history up to 7 days should you need to refer back to it at any time. For emergencies, there is a panic button that triggers an SOS signal. This immediately sends the real-time location to all family members or people who are saved in the app. Those who are notified can then make their way over to the marked location of the SOS signal the soonest they can.
An option to have notifications be sent when family and friends have arrived or left a marked location is available too. This helps when one doesn’t want to keep messaging back and forth to update their loved one on their last whereabouts. For parents who want to know when their daughter/son has left college or a reached the mall, this would be very handy.
My best friend used the SOS function to inform me when her car broken down and I managed to track her exact location.
Security and safety is an issue that knows no boundaries, and it doesn’t discriminate against race or ethnicity. Since its launch in 2015, the app has been downloaded 400k times, and is well on its way to hitting the 500k mark in September. Their users are from various countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, India, US, and UK, just to name a few.
With an average count of 50,000 active users a day, Funa hopes to offer a super user-friendly experience, easily accessible and highly functional. The app is currently available in English and Bahasa Malaysia as of July, but the team envisions an upgrade in the future to include more languages such as Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
Image Credit: FUNA
One noticeable downside so far is that the app doesn’t function where there is a lack of internet data connection.
In emergency cases, the victim can’t very well tell the kidnapper to only go to areas that has excellent internet coverage so this is a slight disadvantage.
After using Funa for over a week, overall, I will say that any earlier negative perceptions was proven false and it is far from being a tool to be used for stalking. Given that it is based on consensual trust and genuine concern, I appreciate the fact that it took me a mere press of a button to get that instant sense of relief.