Today we are going to be talking about the Companion App, a free app designed by five students from the University of Michigan.
For a quick preview of what this app does, especially if you are unfamiliar with it, please watch the video below:
As you can see from this clip, the companion app basically allows a friend to virtually walk you home at night, even if the friend does not have the app itself.
It essentially works by first the user sending a text messaging to one of their friends, requesting that they be the user’s companion. Once the friend agrees, they are sent a link via text message to an interactive map that depicts the user’s progress. If the user moves off their intended course, falls, starts running, etc., the app will ask the user if they are okay. If the user doesn’t reply in 15 seconds, the app sets off an alarm on the user’s phone to scare off attackers and alert police, and offers the option to instantly call the police for them.
Since the app so far is mainly designed for students walking home on college campuses, the app will automatically call for campus security for students in US universities that have agreed to work with the app.
Another feature on this app has the potential to shift the conversation of sexual violence on college campuses from focusing on the victims to the college, especially in terms of campus culture. It is aptly titled the “I’m nervous” feature, which allows users to press a button to let the app know that they sense danger.
Already, within the first week of launching, the Companion’s creators claim that students at participating colleges reported 500 incidents where they felt nervous, illustrating the data collecting potential this app has. And, as you can probably predict, the response to this app has resulted in people from all demographics requesting for this app to be available outside of college campuses as well.
For more information about the Companion app and its potential to become a tool of severely curbing sexual violence on campus, please click on the link for The Mary Sue article: Companion App Allows Users’ Friends to Remotely Walk Them Home at Night.