Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Companion, The App That Will Keep Your Family Safe

Marco Rima
Companion, The App That Will Keep Your Family Safe
Companion is a free app available on Android or iOS that lets its users send requests to phone contacts to virtually track their trips using GPS. With Companion the user is never alone. How Companion works:
I received an SMS text requesting that I be his companion. A link in the text sent me to the app -- though you don't need it to track someone. If not, it would have directed me to a map in a browser. Once I accepted, I could see exactly where my friend was. The app uses the phone's built-in sensors to detect changes in movement -- like if the user starts running or the headphones come out. If that happens, the app asks users to confirm that they're OK. If they don't do so within 15 seconds, the app notifies your companion who has the option to call the police. At the same time, the app will also go into alert mode for the walker, emitting siren-like noises and displaying a button to also call the police.”
The founders of Companion created the app with the intentions of maximizing safety and lowering crime on the University of Michigan campus, which the founders of the app say is “way to prevalent”. The app has had 500,000 new users in the past week alone with well-diversified audience, appealing not only to college students but also senior citizens and everyday citizens seeking additional safety in their everyday life.
“This app makes sure you never walk home alone”
Companion will provide a service for small business owners that carry cash to and from the bank. My mother is a small business owner in Jackson Heights, Queens New York. She is a woman who should not be going to and from the bank especially in a neighborhood dubbed “The cocaine capital of queens”. I also have a little sister who works late nights and routinely comes home during hours where the streets are dark and abandoned. On September 5th there was a rape caught on camera on 35th avenue and 84th street, only two blocks away from my house. With companion people like my mother and sister can travel through the city at anytime without having to feel alone.
“Because Companion is collecting anonymous data on users' paths -- and where they "feel nervous" -- it's a potential goldmine of information that universities and cities could analyze to make streets safer.”
The data collected by companion can be useful in helping law enforcements study the areas where users frequently feel “nervous”. Companion should seek partnership with agencies that already have information on specific areas and advice users (send a notification to their smart phone) that they should precede with caution. Companion can also be useful for firms that provide services. For
CNN Article:
Article on Jackson Heights Rape case:



  1. This app sounds much like a condensed 'Find my iPhone'. I think the features will be of great value to families as you have stated. I think the feature for someone to have to request for your location, instead of just having it like on 'Find my iPhone', to be a lot more helpful for parents wondering where their kids are.

  2. This app reminds me of another type of apple tracking system. One can track their macbook or their iPhone with "Find my iPhone." I believe it is a functional app that families can use for their children. To critique this app, it can be seen as a privacy issue. One knows where another is at all times in tracking a cell phone. If the wrong person has this information about you, then it can become dangerous. Overall, if the safety features are sufficient, then it is a useful app that most people may use.

  3. I'm curious to learn more about "Companion". I think that it is very similar to the apple application "Find My Iphone" in that it can track the location of a lost phone. One question that I have is, what happens if the phones power is turned off or runs out. Will you still be able to track the position of your friend/family? I know from experience that when I have wanted to use the "Find My Iphone" app, at many times because my phone was turned off the app told me that my phone is "unavailable".

  4. One of things that makes this app unique with the potential to make big change in society is letting the police know where people feel most unsafe. By sending the police department this data, cops will be able to monitor certain areas more closely. While some may see this as a privacy issue, I am personally willing to give up some privacy if it means ensuring I will get home safely. This is an app that Hannah Graham at UVA last year, and many others would certainly have benefited from.


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