As mobile phones become more ubiquitous, they are undoubtedly changing how we respond to and record crises. We can report emergencies and call for help in real-time, rather than having to drive to the nearest phone. But we haven't really built these networks out fully and taken advantage of all the power of the mobile phone to send text messages, phone calls, conference calls, photos, and instant messages - not just to the authorities but to friends and family.

Enter Guardly, a new app from a Toronto-based startup that arrives on iPhone today.

I don't want to run a sampling of scenarios where you'd want to have to use a device like this. But consider this. Even if you walk around with your iPhone in hand (or in pocket), it still takes 8 taps to dial 911 (Home, Slide to unlock, Phone, Keypad, 9, 1, 1, Send). It takes 3 taps to launch Guardly.

When activated, Guardly is able to contact the user's personal safety network (which can be a number of people via voice, SMS or email) and/or cal 911. It will keep you in contact with these groups so you can collaborate via conference call and instant-messaging. Yes, another group messaging app. But not really.

The app also includes mapping and photo-sharing and can issue a blaring warning sound too.

The app is free, but you'll need to subscribe to the premium features - $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year - to unlock all the features.