Street harassment has been a big topic on social media the past few years. With so many women sharing their stories, and even having experiences of my own, I’ve always wondered if there was something that could truly be done to protect women from these potentially dangerous situations.
Looks like there’s a huge development in the right direction. Companion is an app that lets you share your location with anyone in your contact book, and even contact the authorities if something awful happens or if you’re just not feeling safe.
The app lets you plug in your current location, your destination, and method of transportation. You decide who you want to “virtually walk you home”. The app detects if you dropped your phone, trip, fall, or take off running. A notification pops up asking if you’re okay, and if you don’t respond in 15 seconds, your companions are notified. There’s even a “Call Police, 911” button that will share your GPS location when you click it.
The makers of the app were students at University of Michigan, who originally created it for campus safety. They collect anonymous data about where users may feel nervous, but are not in danger, and can use that info to make sure those places are checked out in the future.
Companion asks for some information like your phone number, name, and gender to help in the event that you’re in trouble. On the iPhone app, it asks to access your location even in the background, which I usually don’t allow, but I trust it.
I used to think my mom was paranoid when she’d ask me to text her when I got somewhere and when I got home, but the fact of the matter is, anything can happen. Companion could put her mind at ease, especially being 1,400 miles away.
Check out the promo video:
As always, with YouTube, there are people who are just being Negative Nancys, and completely missing the point of the app. Of course there are situations that may not have been thought of, but for the most part, I think this is a solid and potentially life-saving app!
From the constructive criticism I did read from YouTube and the App Store reviews, some interesting features they can probably add in the future are:
- Password protection (if a person can disable the app’s “OK” notifications, maybe it should be password and touchpoint protected)
- Verifying that your companion (the one who’s “walking with you”) actually is paying attention to their phone
- Auto-start the phone’s camera or video once the police button has been pressed
- Dialing 112 instead of 911 (this required a bit more research on my end since I’ve never heard of that)
All in all, I think it’s definitely worth checking out, and I salute the founders for coming up with the idea and executing!