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The University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security is very excited about this product--but more importantly--we are very please to have an excellent partnership with Companion to keep evolving and improving the product. We believe Companion will have a real impact increasing safety and security for our community here on campus.
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@jmcdole1714 This seems like great marketing for parents that you have systems like this. Definitely know that if I had children/daughters of university age would love them to go to a school with this service integrated. Great job on making your campus not just beautiful, but safe too. Really is a great campus too, my brother did his masters in architecture there, always enjoyed visiting except during the winter!
@benwtnb @jmcdole1714 - Can't speak for Jeff, but I think he'd agree! Perception of safety is huge. For parents, for students, for administrators, for everyone. When something bad happens on a campus, it doesn't just effect the victim and their family, it effects the university community as a whole. While perception of safety is big, we're also striving to actually prevent these things from happening by truly making public safety smarter, more agile, and ultimately predictive!
Awesome new update @jhwayne1
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Hi everyone, So psyched to be on PH today launching Companion 2.0! Companion is a peer-to-peer safety app that improves public safety and provides peace of mind to anyone on the move. We’re excited to introduce Companion 2.0 after launching v1 on PH last November. Companion 2.0 includes a ton of new features as well as the launch of our Android App. Some of the highlights in this update:   • Nervous button: Help the community identify sketchy areas. We'll make sure to pass this info on to public safety to make your next walk home even safer.   • Automatic emergency detection: If you start running, fall down, or have your headphones yanked out during a trip, we’ll reach out and make sure you’re safe.   • Alert mode: If necessary, transform your phone into a personal alarm system that can scare away the bad guys   • Complete design overhaul: We took all the feedback from our users and made the Companion experience more seamless and easier to use. We’d love to hear any and all feedback, comments & questions!
@jhwayne1 When you say peer-to-peer do you mean in terms of networking? i.e. doesn't require a data connection to a central server? As a consumer I would NEVER trust a 3rd party app over a 911 call. 911 has infrastructure in place (redundancy) to piggy back on other networks. Every alert app I have seen relies on an active data connection to their servers. What happens when data isn’t available? Worst what happens when the app hasn't been updated to support the latest OS version and a user only finds out when they really need to use it.. Eek!
@andrzejb200sx We're referencing peer-to-peer in the context of leveraging your peers (contacts) to help keep you connected and safe. We don't work without a data connection (yet). Similar to a 9-1-1 call from a mobile phone, you need at least a some signal to make a call. Again, we're not trying to replace 9-1-1 calls....we want to enhance and augment this process to make things quicker and more effective for both people and public safety departments! You bring up some great points -- all things we've been thinking hard about!
@jhwayne1 Hey Jake, this looks great -- but does it only work in the US? Would be great to see international support, even if that means limiting features like calling emergency services and offering core functionality.
@aghoshal Great question! This is one we've gotten a lot! Long story short, we're working on it. We have limited resources, so we decided to focus on the U.S. first. It works everywhere in the world currently, you just need a U.S. phone # to register (twilio restriction). We are aiming to push out an update in the next couple of weeks that at least allows for registration from all over the world (core functionality). And then yes, over time, making our 9-1-1 features localized as well!
I've been using this new update, and I think the user-interface is a substantial improvement over the previous version. As a college student myself, I understand the need for an application like this. Companion definitely should be a requirement on all college campuses, as the majority of students these days carry smartphones. In fact, I feel like not requiring students to install Companion is almost a liability of sort. How does the offline emergency button/trigger work? Let's talk offline, @jhwayne. Thanks for the great release!
@markgurman my team and I couldn't agree more. The emergency buttons are customized to the University. Based on geo -location we can reroute the call to a campus's public safety department so they can respond more quickly and efficiently! The triggers are built around GPS and the iPhones sensors. Can DM you on Twitter if you want more info!
@jhwayne1 Mobile phones are notorious at location triangulation. Mobile devices jump from cell to satellite to wifi points to triangulate and are actually unreliable during an emergency to “accurately" pin point the individual. How are you folks working within this limitation?
@andrzejb200sx Great question. Right now, a traditional 9-1-1 call can take several minutes for a dispatcher to locate the caller (assuming they can't vocalize their location themselves). We're not replacing this call, just enhancing it! We're able to combine tons of different datapoints (triangulation, GPS, wi-fi, etc.) to provide a much more accurate location. Of course, out of the box, this can cause some jumping. But we're working on some really cool technology that helps make this "jumpiness" way better and actually reliable! Can't share too much of our secret sauce, but it's something we're constantly improving as we go!
Wow Jake this update sounds excellent! It sounds like you guys are building a Waze but for getting home safely in some ways. Also, I love the automatic emergency dectection feature. How do you determine if someone has fallen? How accurate have you found this feature? Congrats!
@vivekmgeorge thanks for the kind words! With sensors in the iPhone we can detect if the phone has been dropped or the user has fallen. This method has been proven to be very accurate, and if it is a mistake they can let us know they are okay through the app.
@jhwayne1 you obviously have to write your own algorithms since the phone has no such out-of-the-box functionality. How do you handle false calls for help i.e. fall from on a bike or phone falls out of pocket. Wouldn't want the device to call for help when its not a real emergency ;-)
@andrzejb200sx agreed. Right now when a trigger does go off the app will prompt the user asking "Are You Okay." In the case of a non-emergency the user has 15 sec to let us know they are okay. Currently this 15 sec prompt has been a great deterrent for false alarms.