Companion, developed in Michigan, is free on iOS and Android. Users must enter their number to sign up to the service. Although the app was designed in the US, it works with international numbers.
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Back in the day in companies I owned or worked for, we were looking for smartphone apps for certain civil service people and security guards. With a lot of people such as midwifes, district and mental health nurses, probation officers and others working in strangers’ homes, the ability to push a panic button that sends the last known GPS coordinates to a base is very important. There was high demand in low socioeconomic areas.
This was a big deal and a complex problem, particularly when developing solutions for unique small markets. We knew that one day commercial applications like Companion (and this one is FREE) would come out. Another problem, which we have frequently seen with services that monitor GPS anklets is the resources available for monitoring large numbers of devices.
Companion appears to have some excellent features including the fact that you can send a call for help, or at least to have a friend or trusted person monitor your location and status EVEN IF they don’t have the app on their mobile. That is huge because if you had a one on one relationship with a back up person (as some apps do) and that person isn’t available, this app lets you contact anyone on your phone list. If the person you wanted to keep an eye on you was away, sleeping at the movies etc, simply pick someone else.
This is great for anyone from joggers and long distance sports people, kids walking to school (if hey have mobiles) through to people with diabetes or other conditions. From catching a train to being followed by someone who has road rage, this is a game changer.
One of the great things in this is that it doesn’t require you to make a call. You preset your destination, nominate the friend and they get a message with a link telling them where you are going and then have the ability to monitor you on a map. If they have any concerns, they can trigger an ‘Are You OK’ function and if you don’t say yes within 15 seconds your companion gets an alert. Even every day things like people who go Sunday driving or travel on holiday and might get fatigued and have an accident would be great opportunities to try out this app.
Companion also has a function to call the Police, or to send out an alert saying “I feel uneasy”, something I would have loved to have had when I walked to far off the Las Vegas strip and was randomly targeted by a group of half a dozen teenagers who started following me, sped up when I sped up and ran when I ran, fortunately I made it to the first souvenir shop which had an armed security guard. They waited outside for about 5 minutes an when they saw me talking to the security man they sloped off.
Applications like this, especially the ‘I feel uncomfortable’ function could provide great crowd sourced data for Police and emergency services if a critical mass of people were using it, giving them a feel for what is going on in neighborhoods. I love the feature where companion can hear audio from the mobile and give access to the app and information to Police without the user having to reach for their phone. If you were in danger from other people, the last thing you want them seeing you do is get your phone out to call 911. Your companion can do it for you and with assisted GPS your back up team will know exactly where you are.