Rachel Grate
September 08, 2015 11:09 am

Walking home alone at night just got a little less creepy: a new app is here to let your friends virtually walk you home. The app is called Companion, and it was created by five University of Michigan students who were sick of the fear women face when out alone at night.

So how can an app offer walking home protection? Before leaving, users can plug-in their destination and share their walk with any of their contacts — regardless of whether or not the contact has the app downloaded. Then friends can track your route, and if the app detects any warning signs it instantly notifies your friends that something’s wrong. They can then choose to check in on you directly, or call the police and give them your location.

“Let’s say you are leaving the library late at night and you don’t have anybody to walk home with,” Lexie Ernst, one of the app’s founders, told WFAA ABC 8. Once you invite your contacts, “on your friend’s side they can see you walking and if you go off route, don’t make it home on time, or if you fall, or your headphones get yanked out of your phone, instantly your contacts are notified to check up on you.”

If it’s a false alarm, you have 15 seconds to let the app know you’re safe. Otherwise, the notification is sent and the app enters “alarm mode,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Your phone will start a siren designed to attract attention and scare away anyone threatening.

But what if nothing has happened, but you still feel uneasy? Regardless of the reason, the app believes in your ability to trust your gut. Companion includes the option to alert your friends if you feel nervous, or to instantly call police.

“People feel this issue, an uneasy walk home, feeling nervous at night, on a daily basis around the world, so it’s important to address it and use technology to make the world a better place,” Ernst said. “Personal safety is an issue from everyone, all demographics. It doesn’t matter your age, your sex or where you are from.”

The app isn’t ending their quest to make the world a better place at just making individuals feel more safe. They also plan to use app insights about crime patterns to better inform campus safety departments and police officers to help the community as a whole. The founders are already working with the University of Michigan so that the app can alert campus safety directly, and they hope to expand partnerships with colleges across the country.

In the age of rising assault cases on college campuses and with supposedly safe transportation options like Uber, it’s incredibly refreshing to find an app that genuinely cares about helping people navigate a sometimes scary world.

On a personal note, it seems like every week I face the decision of a (justifiably) paranoid walk home, or stretching my budget on yet another Lyft ride. So I’ve already downloaded the app, and can’t wait to feel more secure in both my and my friends’ nighttime adventures.

Want to share the peace of mind? You can download the free app here.

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[Image via the app]

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