We’ve all had that moment when we’re walking home alone after a group study session or a pre-Christmas party, and all of a sudden a chill runs down our spine. How much we’d wish we had someone to walk with us. It’s not just for girls, either. In the US more and more college students, both male and female, have run into problems even while walking within their campuses. It’s not about being worried or scared, but we all need a companion.
And that’s what a few college kids from the University of Michigan have done. They’ve developed a safety app called Companion. It lets users who walk alone, have a virtual companion through their phone.
How it works:
In case you’re walking from your friend’s place to your own, and you feel like you need company, you can send out requests to your friends or family through the Companion app. Your chosen contacts will receive an SMS with a link to your location and the route you’re taking. They can walk your back until you’re safe at home. And the best part is that your virtual companion doesn’t have to have the app to keep you company.
What if something happens on the way?
The app will detect sudden changes in your movement, like when you take a detour from your selected route, when you fall, when you’re pushed, or even when you have your headphones yanked out of your phone. It will then pop up a message asking of you’re OK. You’ll have 15 seconds to tap the button and tell that app that you’re OK. If you don’t declare that you’re OK, the app emits a loud noise that would scare attackers away from you, and also gives you the option to call the police.
If you can’t call the police…
When all this is happening, the app will send a message to your virtual companion with details of your location and will let them call you or the police on your behalf.
Since the app was initially developed to help college students inside the campus, the developers are now tryig to figue out places where most people feel insecure. With a new feature, the app gives you the option to choose an “I am nervous” option. The app will collect this data and will use this to inform college authorities to help make these places more secure.
Companion in US universities.
According to the developers, several universities across the US have tied up with them to increase security within the campus.
Outside the US too.
Many people in the UK, Belguim, France, and Norway are downloading and appreciating the app. After all, safety is an issue that needs recognition throughout the world no matter who needs it. “Lots of parents want to use the app for their children, and some people want their elderly parents to use it, too, to make sure they don’t get lost.” Says Lexie Ernst, the co-founder of the Companion app.
Safety, OK. But at what cost?