New App Helps People Stick Together

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NewsChannel 7 got an exclusive look at a new cell phone app that will help keep people safer. The Bring A Buddy App, which will be launched in May, was designed by UW Stevens Point students working with the Bring A Buddy Campaign.

The campaign encourages people to pledge to never walk alone. It started after a UWSP senior, Eric Duffey, left a bar alone one night in March of 2012. His body was found just a mile away in the Wisconsin River after two days of searching. His parents and the UWSP Student Government have spear-headed the effort to turn this tragedy into something that saves lives. Previously they have partnered with many bars and taverns, along with many other businesses to pass out wristbands, coasters, and napkins promoting the cause. They've also reached out to a number of universities to implement this cause elsewhere. Currently, five other universities including UW Eau Claire, Green Bay, Marathon County and one university in Illinois have signed on to bring it to their campuses.

The app is meant to take it another step forward.

"One of the problems is when people are walking alone, they're on their cell phone," said UWSP Student Government Association's Communications and Public Relations Director, Jenna Furger. "They're not aware of their surroundings so that adds a level of danger. So how can we change that? Well let's make a smart phone app that allows people to be on their phones but also is a safe thing."

The app uses your Facebook friends where you can create Buddy Circles. Once you invite people to join your circle, if they accept your invite both parties will be able to track each other via messages and/or GPS mapping. You can check into different locations, message your friends to keep them up-to-date on what you're doing, and even get a ride home through the cab services partnered with the campaign. None of the messages or locations are public and you have control over who you share your location and when.

The app will be available for Android and iOS devices sometime in May.

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