Search Party: World-First App Takes Aim at Festival Drug Problem

Women Love Tech
on March 27, 2019

In the wake of the recent controversial festival licensing, youth drug overdoses and calls for pill testing, a new app aims to provide added safety for all festival attendees.

Launched this month by Gold Coast developers, SearchParty provides an added layer of safety and reassurance for festival-goers. Users create theirown ‘Party’ within the app, where they can chat, meet and geo-locate each other to within 2m accuracy. This function, coupled with SearchParty’s uniqueAlert button, aims to bring peace of mind to the festival experience.

“Going to a festival with your mates is almost impossible to navigate,” saysSearchParty co-founder Jessy Mulholland, who worked on the festival scene as a DJ and Producer and saw firsthand the issues attendees experience. “You can’t find your friends in the crowd, no one is ever at the meet-up point, and phones don’t work at festivals because the networks get overloaded.

“That’s where SearchParty is different. The app’s features were specifically designed to be low-latency, to allow for minimal mobile service at music festivals. You can pinpoint your mates on the map so you’re not blindly trying to find them in a sea of people, and you can invite friends into your Party within the app so you can message them within the group chat. It takes the inconvenience out of the festival experience,” says Jessy.

But SearchParty doesn’t stop there. A world-first one-click Alert button allows users to alert every person in their Party that they need help. Their location is then geo-tagged so friends can get to them quickly and easily. Users can also click a link to directly call Emergency Services from the Alert button function.

“In the last few months, five people have died from suspected overdoses at festivals in Australia,” says Jessy. “Twenty-five people were hospitalised on Australia Day weekend. Drug use is commonplace at festivals and even more people are affected by alcohol, heatstroke and dehydration. We can’t stop people from taking drugs, but we wanted to make festivals safer across the board – whether people need help after an overdose, drinking too much, or even feeling vulnerable to sexual harassment.

“We’re not a replacement for medical treatment or Emergency services, but we added the Alert button to allow users to instantly alert their friends that they are in trouble. It’s simple to use and requires minimal mobile service”.

Research from UNSW (2018) showed that 87% of people believed sexual harassment occurred at music festivals, with 74% believing sexual assault occurred. Over 60% believed it happened ‘often’ or ‘very often’. SearchParty’s Alert button has been designed with this in mind – giving women in particular reassurance that they can instantly alert their friends if they feel unsafe, and friends in their Party can always see where they are.

“Our market research showed that females attending festivals will often miss out on the artists they really want to see, rather than split up from their friends who might want to see a different act on another stage,” says Jessy. “With the SearchParty app, no festival-goer will need to compromise their festival experience due to feeling unsafe or disconnected.”

SearchParty launched March 2019 and is available for free download on iOS. Android scheduled for release April 2019.

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