Friday, September 4, 2015

Free personal-safety mobile app allows virtual friends to guide you in unsafe neighborhood

The Companion app, created by five students from the University of Michigan, enables users to request a friend or family member to keep them company virtually and track their journey home via GPS on an online map.

Companion lets you reach out to family, friends or your campus police and have them keep an eye on you as you travel late at night. Wherever you go, get there safely with a Companion!

All you have to do is enter your destination and select some contacts to be your Companion. They do not even need the app to be installed on their phones or computers. The user can send out several requests to different phone contacts in case people are not available to be a companion or not with their phones at the time. Those contacted then receive an SMS text message with a hyperlink in it that sends them to a web page with an interactive map showing the user walking to their destination, from Point A to Point B.

In the particular worrisome conditions, like If you start running, do not make it to your destination on time, have your headphones yanked out or your phone falls to the ground, you will be instantly checked in to make sure everything is okay. If the user is fine, they press a button on the app to confirm within 15 seconds. If they do not press the button, or a real emergency is occurring, the Companion app transforms the user's phone into a personal alarm system that projects loud noises to scare criminals from the scene, and gives you the option to call the police. You can call 9-1-1 from this app with just two taps. You will be connected to the closest dispatcher, who gets your location automatically.

You can also report areas on your campus that make you uneasy. Simply tap the "I Feel Nervous" button and this information will be passed to your campus police department. Do not worry, all the reports are strictly anonymous. Campus police will check the spot at the observed conditions and will assure that this area will become safer, and perceived safer in the future.

As the app was originally designed to aid students in walking home at night across university campuses. If the user calls 911, the app will also alert the person's relevant university campus safety department within the US, but this feature is only applicable to universities that have signed up to work with Companion.

At the same time, the app will send an alert to the contact who is keeping you company, and that person can choose to call the police and give them your location, as well as call you to find out if you are OK.



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