Life

A virtual companion to walk you home? The app that aims to keep us safe at night

Posted by
Harriet Hall
Published

“Text me when you get home”: the classic farewell we give to our friends after a night out.

It’s a sad fact that our after-dark walk home often fills us with anxiety for our personal safety, leading many of us to tuck our keys between our knuckles on our journey, adopt a power walk, or opt for a taxi instead.

Five students from the University of Michigan have designed an app that will bring peace of mind to many people walking home after an evening at the pub, or even a late shift.

Companion is a free mobile app that was originally designed to help students feel safe while walking home at night across university campuses in America.

It enables users to request a friend to virtually walk them home, by tracking their journey via GPS – and according to the International Business Times, tens of thousands of people worldwide are using it.

With the tagline: “Never walk home alone”, the app works by enabling users to request a friend or ‘companion’ then select your destination. In order to be a companion, a friend does not need to install the app, and the user can select several people to be their companion, in the event some are unavailable.

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Your companion can follow you on GPS in real-time and will receive alerts if there are disruptions to your journey (such as straying-off a planned route, being pushed, starts running or headphones are pulled out). If you don’t respond to let the app know you are ok within fifteen seconds, the app will contact your companion and then it transforms your phone into a personal alarm which emits loud noises.

There is also an emergency button which can be used to call the police with one click.

On the group’s blog they have written:

“After a long night of studying at the library, hanging out at a friends house, or leaving a party early, walking home is often the most practical option. Yet with rampant crime alerts, increasing sexual assaults and other violence issues, few actually feel safe when doing so.”

“We needed a service that helped ease this fear but more importantly prevent these crimes in the first place.”

Companion is available on Android and iPhone and you can download it here.