App allows user to designate people as protectors
By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS
Angela Rucci used to call her father every time she traveled in public alone after she moved from Youngstown to Columbus.
Growing up in Youngstown, she felt safe.
But after a man assaulted her at a Columbus grocery store, she needed something to give her and her loved ones peace of mind.
Rucci, a computer science major at Ohio State University, took matters into her own hands and created Tego, which she describes as a personal safety app. She and the co-founder, Mark Thorn, coded the app.
“I thought of this idea when I first moved to Columbus,” she said. “I lived in Youngstown my whole life and in Youngstown you just know everyone so I felt very comfortable. Right when I moved to Columbus I felt insecure.”
The app allows the user to designate up to 10 people as “protectors.” The user can set a destination, and automatically alerts the protectors when the user is leaving and when they arrive. If the protectors don’t have the app, they can get text updates.
If there is a problem during the trip, the user can alert friends and family, along with the police.
The user can send live video footage of the situation around them if there is a problem. There is also a safety-alarm feature.
Rucci suggests even when using the app, people should keep their phones in their pockets when they are walking so they can remain aware of their surroundings.
The app, which launched in March, is free and available on the iOS app store. It should be available for Androids in August.
Rucci attended Poland Seminary High School and for two years attended Youngstown State University. After she graduates this year, she plans on working on the app full time.
She hopes YSU students will consider the app.
“I want to market to YSU,” she said. “I want to give all these students another layer of protection.”
Kelly Beers, YSU Title IX director, said anything that makes someone feel safer is good, but reiterated that people must always be aware of their surroundings and mindful of who is around them.
“People should be proactive in thinking about their safety,” she said.
Tego is named after the “protego” spell from Harry Potter, which casts a shield of protection.
“This app is the updated version of telling someone to text you when you get home,” she said.
Rucci asks people to try out the app and to leave a review or email email@example.com with any comments or suggestions on how to improve the app.
One reviewer said the app was helpful when he met with someone for a deal made on Craigslist, and another said it made her feel safer while she walks.