Students from the University of Michigan have launched a Companion App that allows users to walk home with the protection of their friends.
The free app enables the user to connect with a friend or family member while walking home and allows that person to virtually track the friend walking home via GPS on their smartphone.
The app registers when the user goes off track, falls, starts to run or is pushed. It then asks if the user is safe, and if there is no reply within 15 seconds, the app sends out an alert to the friend and, if selected, the police, and then activates a personal alarm.
The app was originally designed for university students walking home and around campus.
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Women’s Group President Chrissy Brown endorsed the app claiming that “anything that makes women feel safer walking home is a great thing. If that’s talking on the phone to a friend, using an app or walking a different route”. However, both Brown and fellow Women’s Group member Emlou Lattimore acknowledged that one app would not stamp out rape culture.
Furthermore, the app is only accessible to those with a (sufficiently charged) smartphone.
However, Brown concludes that “getting people involved in the app will change the way we think about how people get home safe and that ultimately is a good thing”.
Last April, Salient reported on Victoria’s delayed implementation of safety precautions along the Boyd-Wilson path near Te Puni.
VUWSA’s 2014 President Sonya Clark called for greater action in order to keep Victoria students safe on campus and around town. In early 2014 three attacks had been reported on the Boyd-Wilson pathway.
Over the years Victoria students have complained about their safety around the Boyd-Wilson path, where attacks have happened in recent years.
VUWSA Welfare Vice President Madeleine Ashton-Martyn told Salient that the association has “been pushing the University to actively create a safer campus environment through trying to map the key areas that students are concerned about and identifying infrastructural improvements that might help. Usually that fear comes from badly lit pathways and lack of knowledge of campus safety reporting and response procedures.”
The Greater Wellington Regional Council has recently updated its tips on walking home within Wellington, adding a journey planner to its website to help users map the most visible route home.
Alternatively, the Wellington City Council advises that people stick with their friends on the walk home and avoid taking shortcuts down alleys or parks. Either that, or the Council suggests arranging for someone to pick you up or taxi home.
You can download the app for free for both Apple and Android.