When students come to The Ohio State University, they're inundated with information on how to keep themselves safe. From pamphlets to workshops to self-defense classes, the university provides a plethora of resources for students to protect themselves.
But when Angela Rucci moved to Columbus from Poland, near Youngstown, none of that could prevent a traumatic encounter while shopping at a grocery store during her first semester.
"I realized a man had been following me for several aisles," she says. "Once I realized this, he grabs up on me and starts thrusting himself. Remember: This is my first time ever leaving home in a new city, I knew no one."
Rucci, now a senior, says the incident affected her. She felt unsafe and started calling her dad whenever she traveled anywhere.
"It was starting to put a lot of strain on my dad because he felt like he always had to be by the phone and always had to be on the phone with me," she says. "And that's where I got the idea of Tego."
Tego is an app she developed during a hackathon last year. It tracks your trip home via GPS and sends real-time updates to designated contacts, like a friend or a sister.
"You can go into these 'feeling unsafe' modes where you can send video footage to your sister," she says. "So then your sister feels a part of your trip. She's watching you. She can make sure you are safe, you're not being attacked."
Rucci adds that the app has an easy button to connect to 9-1-1, and that video footage and location data can be saved to send to authorities.
While the app works anywhere, Rucci and her co-founder, a fellow student, focused their early energy on campus.
"We've been reaching out to almost all the Ohio State sororities; I think we emailed over like 1,500 clubs," she says. "We're just trying to get as many people to test out the app and tell them if this is helping them feel safe when walking home or if we can improve it in any sort of way."
Rucci plans to work on Tego full time after she graduates in June, and hopes to launch an Android version of the app in August.