As a woman who has always lived in major cities, walking home alone at night has always been a constant worry. I’ve done it all, too–calling a friend, pretending to call a friend, buying pepper spray, and using the old key trick. Needless to say, I’m an expert at staying safe while venturing out on my own.
But now, there’s a new free app that lets friends and family walk you home, even if they live thousands of miles away: The Companion app has virtually been exploding within the past week, ever since International Business Times featured them on their site. The app was created by five students from the University of Michigan, which allows users to request a friend to keep track of their journey home via GPS on an online map. The designated friend or family member doesn’t even need to have the app installed.
According to Business Insider, the app seems pretty fool-proof: “If the user strays off their path, falls, is pushed, starts running, or has their headphones yanked out of their phone, the app detects these changes in movement and asks the user if they’re OK.” If there is no response, 911 is called.
Lexie Ernst, cofounder of the Companion app and a senior at the University of Michigan, states how it can be a useful tool for parents: “Lots of parents want to use the app for their children, and some people want their elderly parents to use it, too, to make sure they don’t get lost.”
Even though I’m not a parent, I can imagine that for parents of high school and college students, it’s a breath of fresh air. There’s so much anxiety attached to sending your kids off to college, or even just letting them see friends on their own–and most of it has to do with them staying safe. This app, however, doesn’t take away their freedom–no wonder it’s getting so popular. It’s kind of perfect.