Warning: am no expert on this topic. This is best effort content, use at your own risk as this is a touchy topic. The content below does not mean to replace emergency services like 911.

This is a bit hard to tackle as you, the web-based visitor, can be be anywhere on the planet. Therefore being precise is really hard as how each country manages emergency systems will differ from one another. Going for broad paint strokes here, please adapt to your region.

Bear in mind this page does not tackle topics like a home alarm or fire alarm as you should already this in place connected to a monitoring service.

For the situations where a person is in need of urgent assistance and usually this person lives alone, I can see two ways for them to reach out and get help beyond emergency services:

  • A panic button device
  • Calling with the voice assistant in the home

Let dive into both scenarios:

  1. Panic buttons are really useful tools, if the person is wearing this at all times. There are services for this too, when the button is pressed the service’s call center will try to reach the resident and if they get no answers, they go through a procedure which may end with emergency services going to that home. That’s why I don’t think using a “self-made” system with your own button you bought would be sufficient. Investigate what is offered in your region and make an educated decision is all I can suggest. Here is a link to get your started, if you are not in the US this content will give you the basics to know what to look for in your region.
  2. Calling with voice assistants: this is actually something which can be easily set up, and is not a substitute for a system like 911 in North America or 999/112 in the UK. Results may vary so make sure your emergency contact’s number is a mobile which can receive SMS messages. Plus in some regions using an automated tool to call emergency services may not be legal. The best approach I’ve seen is to have a dedicated “help” contact which can manage the situation, including emergency services. If someone needs help they can say “Alexa I need help” or “Hey Google I need help” then things can be activated. Each voice assistant has it’s way of doing things for calling an emergency contact:
    1. Alexa’s setup for an emergency contact.  Amazon has a whole page to guide you in Communications with Alexa you can consult here. You can get Alexa to call 911 in the US with an Echo Connect (or any number) but it has been discontinued so I’d stay away from it. Amazon also has a service named Alexa Together in the US (and maybe elsewhere), which can do some alert management (including fall detection) to have agents check on things and more, worth a look but again not a 911 substitute but an extra layer of help.
    2. For Google, you an set up a calling from a smart speaker so someone (family members, caregiver, local business, etc.) can be called, here is the guide to set things up. If you are a Nest Aware customer you can set up emergency calling. Another Google service is Google Fi which you can use in the US.
    3. In the Apple world, I’ll assume you have some HomePods in place, here is link for the procedure to call for help (or anyone), you can set up the right contacts like with the Google address book.

Again, the voice assistants do not replace emergency services, but can reach a family member or caregiver which can help out.


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