Richmond student launching personal safety app

It’s ingrained into us to let someone know your plans when you go hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter.

But what about going for a night out with friends or even meeting a date that you hardly know?

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The former is a given, but the latter is something that few of us likely partake in.

That’s why Richmondite and first year UBC science student Vedanshi Vala co-created “Bolt,” an app designed specifically for such scenarios.

“On the app, you will have a group space of contacts. On there, you will be able to post where you’re going and when,” explained Vala, a McRoberts secondary alumni.

“People can monitor the app when you’re out and when you’re expected to return home.

“If you change your location while you’re out, that will be reflected on the app. And you can have a one-click option to send for help, if needed.”

Vala and her team have been working on the concept since April 2017, while still at high school, where their initial vision was having a wearable safety device.

“We realized it wasn’t always practical to wear the device, plus, over time, we realized that more and more people have their phones right in their hands anyway,” added Vala, whose team’s only source of funding has been a $250 grant.

“This enables community members to look out for each other. And for students to feel safer on (UBC) campus.

“To be clear, however, this is not about blaming the victims, this is about being safe.”

The app will also have a feature called the expert's "Hub," where they will provide a collection of tips on safety and well-being from community experts and topics ranging from self-defence to mental health awareness to community resources.

The Bolt app launches at UBC on Dec. 18. For more information, go to BoltSafety.org.

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