Students seek to make campus safer with new mobile app

The team competed for a $50,000 prize at the Microsoft Imagine Cup world finals in Seattle.

The Walkly team at The Microsoft Imagine Cup — Julie Lycklama, Riley Karson, Anastasiya Tarnouskaya and Christopher Thomas.
The Walkly team at The Microsoft Imagine Cup from left to right — Julie Lycklama, Riley Karson, Anastasiya Tarnouskaya and Christopher Thomas.
Credit: 
Supplied

Four Queen’s students have developed an app with the hopes of making campus a safer place at night. 

The app, called Walkly — formerly known as WalkSafe — tracks an individual’s location as they travel from one destination to another to allow a “trusted network” of friends and family to ensure they arrive safely. 

The team members — Anastasiya Tarnouskaya, Christopher Thomas, Julie Lycklama and Riley Karson — are all Comp '17 students. 

“It is a way for you, remotely, to help keep your friends safe,” Tarnouskaya said.

The students began developing the app when Tarnouskaya looked into the Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition in October. After assembling a team of classmates, the team brainstormed the idea and put together a video pitch for the competition.

In December they were given a honourable mention in the “Innovation” category of the competition.

“We were the only team out of Canada to get an honourable mention in that mini-competition,” Tarnouskaya said.

The team developed the app in roughly seven months. During that time, they established a social media presence and learned about the infrastructure of an app in order to create one.

“None of us have ever done a project to this scale where we are actually working with a real life product. It is very different from any school assignment.”

Student safety was the main goal of the project, according to the team.

“It was kind of an intuitive market for us, because we are all university students and we see on a daily basis students walking home from the library late at night or going home from the bar,” Tarnouskaya said.

Once a destination and arrival time is selected, it’s sent out to the user’s trusted network. Members of the network are then alerted if the user doesn’t arrive at the specified location on time.

The app also has an automatic check-in feature, so the user doesn’t forget to tell their friends that they’ve arrived home safely.

In May, the team learned that they’d been chosen to compete among 11 international teams for a $50,000 prize at the Microsoft Imagine Cup world finals in Seattle.

 

  

The team spent the last two weeks of July at the competition, where they presented their mobile app to a panel of judges.

The team didn’t advance past the first round of the international competition. But they said they’re still proud of the work they’ve done and happy with how their presentation went.

The Walkly app is still under development, but it’s set to debut at the end of August in time for Orientation Week.

 

A photo posted by Walkly (@walklyapp) on Jul 31, 2015 at 12:12pm PDT

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