University of Michigan group launches Companion app to ensure students get home safe at night

App's creators took charge after receiving too many crime alert emails from university staff, warning of assault, rape, and robberies on campus

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The Independent Online

It’s late at night, pitch black, and you’ve just come out of the library or are heading home after a night out. You’ve heard the area you have to go through is a bit dodgy but, head down, you walk fast and hope no one will bother you along the way; most students will have experienced this at some point

Now, though, thanks to a group of young people in the US, an app has been developed which allows students to have a friend to digitally walk them on those nights they need a bit of company.

The group of five from the University of Michigan decided to take action and create Companion after they began to receive too many crime alert emails from staff, warning them about assault, rape, and robberies occurring on campus.

Having undertaken computer science internships, the group came together to fix the issue after winning $20,000 in a campus-wide business challenge. With similar apps on the market, they were disheartened to see none specifically targeted students – which is where Companion has now stepped in.

Easy to use, students plug in their destination and select their mode of transportation. They then add friends or family to be their companion – who don’t even need to have the app installed in order to watch – and contacts, or the police, can be reached with just a tap.

companionapp.png
How the app works in 5 simple stages (via companionapp.io/press)

If at any time the user feels unsafe, an ‘I Feel Nervous’ button allows them to send an alert to their contacts. Overall, if students set off a smart trigger, the app checks to make sure they’re okay and, if there’s no response within 15 seconds, the contact will then be alerted that something is wrong and an alarm sounds to ward off a possible attacker.

Since launching last month, one of the app’s creators, Lexie Ernst, told USA Today College the response has been phenomenal and said: “We’ve had over 500,000 sign-ups in the last week.”

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