With the help of a new personal-safety app, students can now travel with a phone companion of their choosing, according to several news reports.
Companion, an app developed by a team of students at the University of Michigan, allows users to select one or more friends to monitor them while they travel.
After the user selects phone contacts, those selected receive a text notification with a link to a map which displays the friend’s current location and intended destination. The phone companions are then able to follow their friend’s GPS location in real-time as they travel, International Busines
s Times (IB Times) reports.
In addition to mapping, users can alert their companions by pressing the “I Feel Nervous” button which prompts the friend to check on them. Users on both ends of the application have the option to contact police if they sense trouble, according to IB Times.
If the user makes sudden changes in movements such as running, remove their headphones or do not respond to a check-up prompts from their companion, the phone will emit a siren as well as prompting the companion to contact law enforcement.
Once the user arrives at their destination they can end their trip in the app. Companion is currently available in Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
According to a report by the Daily Nebraskan, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Police Department tested the app and found some issues with GPS positioning. UNL Police Sergeant Dave Dibelka told the Daily Nebraskan that students should resort to traditional methods of calling a friend and letting them know where they plan to be, according to the report.
Some ENMU students believe Companion may be useful for those hoping to travel safely.
“I think you could use it with friends and also if you are a parent,” Raaven Howard, 20-year-old early-childhood education major said. “Parents could use it to see if their kids make it to and from school safely.”
“If people knew more about it then it would be more practical,” Howard said.
Howard said she is concerned with the app’s reliance on GPS and mobile internet, however, she believes Companion is something that may be useful to those willing to try it.
“I think it’s a really good idea,” said Kayla Ewing, 18. “I have people telling me all the time, ‘Tell me when you get home,’ and I think it’s something people would use.”
Howard and Ewing both believe that the app would be most popular for college-aged women who wish to feel safer while walking home.
“I would use it especially if it eliminated the chance of forgetting to tell my friends when I am home,” Ewing said.