College campuses have never been the safest places, especially for young women. With all of the different people milling around at any given time, it is impossible for an administration to ever ensure complete security to everyone.
Siena Rampulla, a former Rowan University student, aims to help mitigate this issue and provide personal safety with her app, PULLATracker. Rampulla won first place and the $30K prize for the Rohrer New Venture Competition with the app earlier this year.
The app was beta tested at Rowan in the Business Hall’s Ideation Hub on Sept. 20, in an event that was cosponsored by the CEO Club. The “Brunch and Beta Testing” event provided refreshments for the over 60 testing participants that turned out, including bright pink bagels, coffee and Bobica Bars— which are CEO Club President Harrison Nastasi’s glazed granola bars. There was also a photo booth for those in attendance to take their picture with PULLATracker-themed signs.
“I have been wanting to do something that was surrounded by women for a while when it comes to PULLATracker. Now that I have something, like an app that we can beta test, I wanted brunch to be something to bring all the women in, and any students really because I need to have the bug fixes, see how it works on different iPhones and everything like that,” said Rampulla.
Beta testing was run through TestFlight, which allows developers to invite participants to try out their app for testing before launch.
The 11 A.M, testing started out with some difficulty, as the original QR was not scanning for any of the attendees. However, the issue was quickly resolved and testing continued as planned.
The app consists of a pink button that can be held down in the event of an emergency to call for fire, EMS, or police support if the user needs it. The app also uses the phone’s GPS system to send a person’s real-time location to emergency support when needed. As long as the user holds down their finger or selects the “Nothing Yet” button, the app will just track the user. If the individual lets go of the countdown button or selects a specific service, the app will immediately alert the necessary emergency personnel with the exact location of the endangered individual.
Carolyn Smith is an early childhood education major who stopped by the beta testing event.
“I just think it’s really cool for a women-owned business, company, that kind of thing. So I came up to kind of see what it was about, but this is so smart to have something to protect yourself. Just a second layer of reassurance,” said Smith.
The app was inspired by Rampulla’s own experiences when her safety was threatened by a home intruder last semester. The man broke in repeatedly through a basement window, going into the house and stealing money, mail, and underwear from Rampulla and her roommates, even living in the house while the residents were away for spring break.
“When he first broke into our house we didn’t know if it was a break-in or not. We were basically told that we were being overdramatic. We had the fear that we were being overdramatic and then we were told we were overdramatic… We knew what happened… I never wanted a woman to feel how I felt. And it’s not just that. I was in a sorority, I have heard of the terrors of multiple women… So I want to make college a better experience for women and not a fearful one,” said Rampulla
Rampulla also referenced the blue buttons that are placed around campus. These buttons are strewn across campus for use by students to call Public Safety in emergencies. However, Rampulla says that the 30-minute to an-hour wait for the buttons can require is too long. Rampulla said that her app would allow for shorter wait times for assistance as well as not requiring the user to wait out by a blue button until help arrives.
“There’s so much violence and gender-based harassment when it comes to us, and then it’s our first time being independent and away from home. We’re not used to a new environment, it gets nerve-wracking. My goal is to protect women as much as I can and make our experience a little easier,” said Rampulla.
Another round of beta testing will follow this round, using the information gathered from the last round to make improvements. The next round of testing will be taking place before the fall semester is out.
The app officially goes live in January of next year. A beta testing party has been planned, but no date has been officially announced. An event with the It’s On Us club called “Girl Talk” is also in the works to be held in the spring semester, which will be a space for women on campus to ask questions and get answers from each other.
More information and updates on the app can be found on Instagram @pullatracker or on the PULLATracker website.
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