PULLATracker officially launches March 1 for all Rowan students

300

Rowan MBA student, Siena Rampulla was a victim of a home break in the spring of 2022. For many 20-year-old women, this would have been isolating and could have the potential to put a dent in their collegiate success. However, for Rampulla, it did the opposite– her traumatizing experience fueled a fire inside of her to develop PULLATracker, an app that specializes in ensuring women have immediate access to safety resources on college campuses. 

PULLATracker will officially be hitting the app store this Friday, March 1. PULLATracker works anywhere in the United States. The app functions as a direct communicator to local Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and fire and police dispatch at the touch of a button. 

There’s also a special button for “nothing yet” for situations where there may be speculation of danger– but the situation remains unclear at the present moment. After pressing a button a silent alarm will be sent to local dispatch, and the user has 15 seconds to enter a personalized code to cancel the alarm. If the timer runs out before the code is entered, help will be dispatched to the user’s location. The app was designed to be a simple, discreet way for victims to receive help, because of the implication that the aggressor may get more hysterical if they are aware that they may be caught.

“Sometimes predators get a little more aggressive when the police are called, sometimes it actually does like the inverse of what you want…they get like, okay, all they need to do is turn off your phone,” Rampulla said. “With PULLATracker, that’s not the case. So that’s why we wanted to create something discreet, judgment-free.”

For some students, this is a feature that is enticing, as many times in a dangerous situation someone may not want to cause a scene out of fear that the aggressor will react in a way that could put them in potential harm.

“If you have a button on your phone, it’s more discreet, so you’re not making a scene out of it. So like if someone is following you home or something like that, I do like that part of it, it doesn’t make that person aware,” said Lydia D’Ambra, a Rowan art education alum who graduated in 2022. 

The tactful approach to the app is something that makes young women feel safer as well, knowing that they’re able to silently call for help.

“The fact that it’s discreet is the biggest part because like, if someone knows that you’re calling someone, then they can get aggressive,” said Maura Glines, a sophomore art major.

She initially took her ideas to the Rohrer New Venture Expo in spring 2022, where she won “Best in Show” for the app, which at the time was intended to protect women in Europe. This fueled her momentum to pivot towards college students and take home first place and $30K from the Rohrer New Venture Competition in April 2023. Rampulla was able to obtain the funding that she needed to go through with her app’s development and cybersecurity to ensure that women’s data was safe as well. 

According to Rampulla, developing an app is not a cheap process. It took approximately $23K to fully develop the version of the app that will be available for download this week.

“Cybersecurity is very expensive and we want to make sure that no one can hack into this app and manipulate the data, manipulate the location. And we’re also not taking any advertisements, we want to make sure that this is a very easy, simple app to use,” Rampulla said.

Users can download the app free of charge for the first two weeks as a trial period, but after that, it will cost $7.99 per month to have access to the services. The app is available for all students but is marketed specifically towards women, to begin with, due to a heightened need for security. 

“When one woman wins, we all win. So that’s why I really wanted to start off PULLATracker, with being for women. Because a lot of the time when it comes to women’s events or just like things that happen to women, they need more security,” said Rampulla. 

Coming into college, Rampulla was originally on track for pre-med in hopes of being a medical anchor for a news station. She grew up in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, constantly attending trade shows with her parents who are also entrepreneurs. She made the switch to psychology when she realized the impact that PULLATracker could have on women at Rowan and around the world. 

To bring her vision to life, she needed an app developer and a team of other students and professionals to make sure that the app met all of the standards that it needed to before hitting the market. She also worked with consultants from a Rowan class, Scaling New Ventures in the months leading up to the competition who were able to learn from her entrepreneurial journey. 

“She’s just such a creative mind and super inspiring. Like, she twists my brain in a way to think differently about things like just being around her,” said Casey Crespin, one of Rampulla’s student consultants during the competition.

Michael Kantner, the assistant vice president and emergency management coordinator is excited to see how the app will enhance safety on campus. If a student uses the app on campus, it will notify their dispatch and Rowan Public Safety will be able to respond to the situation just like they would if a student were to use the blue light system on campus.

“It’s an enhancement of our blue light phones, in my humble opinion and I think it’s better, and I think that the community will use it, especially, I’ll say, the younger generation. They’re more app-oriented,” said Kantner.

After hearing about Rampulla’s idea for the app at the beginning of her journey, Kanter expressed that he is supportive– as more resources for students is something that will only enhance the safety of the university at large. 

“I cannot be more emphatic that I am so happy for Siena…it’s the more the merrier, and that we can enhance safety in any way possible, we’re gonna continue to do so,” said Kantner.

As the app prepares to launch with the intention to protect women all over the United States, Rampulla is most excited to be able to give women a resource that makes them feel seen and validated when something traumatic might make them feel anything but that.

“You can’t talk to anyone about it because they already don’t believe you, so it’s something that you know, it turns like this traumatizing experience into something 10 times worse. So yeah, that’s…another passion of mine. I’m like, I don’t want anyone to feel how I felt,” Rampulla said. 

She also hopes that as students have this resource in their pockets, it will allow them to have a safer, less stressful college experience.

“I created this so that they [collegiate women] can have a better experience than I did in college, and they can have a safer experience. My goal is just to keep women secure on college campuses and then eventually, I want to extend it to all like men too,” said Rampulla. 

She also intends for the app to be a catalyst for conversation and change in collegiate culture. By having PULLATracker on their phones, she hopes that collegiate women will not only feel protected, but empowered to take a stand on women’s safety.

“Change starts from, you know, how people react to the culture. So if you don’t like the culture that’s promoting victim blaming or anything like that. I think this is a perfect way to take a stand and you know, you can be protected,” Rampulla said.

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email thewhit.newseditor@gmail.com

Comment