AMES, Iowa -- We have all heard of the buddy system, and now your buddy can be your phone.
“You get a virtual buddy in this case,” Iowa State Police Chief Michael Newton said.
ISU police are giving people a new way to stay safe through a mobile application. The new ISU Guardian App released this past Wednesday does exactly what the name says, providing a virtual guardian for someone when walking alone.
“People want to be proactive about their own safety, and this tool gives them that opportunity,” Newton said.
One of its many features is a safety timer, where students can choose someone to virtually follow their walk to a location.
“I've already used it once and I did it with my mom and it worked really well,” Iowa State junior Haley McClure said. “She kept an eye on me and it made me feel safe the entire time.”
The app tracks how long it should take someone to get to their destination, and if they don't make it in time, it notifies the virtual guardian of the last known GPS location.
“I think it's a good thing to have,” Iowa State freshman Garrett Belzer said. “A lot of students on this on this campus, especially in the springtime, are going to be walking to classes. And on the news a lot you hear about things that happen to students who are walking back late at night, so I think it's a really good idea.”
App users can also select campus police to be their virtual guardian during the hours of 6:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. every day while school is in session; the same hours of Iowa State Police’s SafeRide service.
The best part of this new service is that it can work anywhere.
“They can use the app anywhere once they are logged in,” Newton said. “We have set up a geofence around campus, so we are their official guardian when they are in the community.”
This new safety app isn't just available for students. Anyone with an Iowa State ID and password including faculty and staff can make sure they never have to walk alone.
The app has other features like a one-touch button to be in direct contact with ISU police, receive emergency notifications, and send tips to police. Newton says they know people are already using the app.