Imagine if your phone buzzed and lighted up with an text message whenever you were walking down a street or through a neighborhood with a history of sexual assault. That’s the idea behind Light Alert, an app created by two student finalists in Imagine Cup, Microsoft’s annual student tech competition. Malisa Vongskul, a junior IT major at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and Ashley Myers, a senior computer science major at DePauw University, make up team MangoBunnies, the brains behind the app.
In the girls’ entry video, they cite harrowing statistics explaining the need for this technology, including the fact that 20% to 25% of college women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape during their college experience. The app runs in the background of the user’s phone, and by tracking her location and matching it to documented occurrences of rape, it will alert her if she enters a dangerous area. It will also send a list of reported incidences, complete with addresses and simple description of the attack, whether rape or assault. On a smartphone, these locations can be viewed on a map.
Light Alert’s creators hope this warning will inspire the user to take a cab to her destination or call a friend to escort her home. It’s a concept for now, but one could easily see this working its way into the iPhone App Store or some savvy investor getting behind this posthaste.
College campus-safety aside, this could be a valuable tool for women everywhere, from venturing out on the weekends to finding a place to live—you’d be a lot less likely to rent that great apartment if your phone was telling you the neighborhood has a history of sexual assault, right?
Other finalists in the competition include Tesla, which helps small businesses decrease their carbon footprint, LifeCode Deliverance, which offers remote health monitoring, and Blob Multitouch Designer, which develop multi-touch educational presentations, among others.