St. Louis startup Noonlight to partner with Tinder, Match

| News Editor

Safety features designed by St. Louis tech startup Noonlight will now be incorporated into dating apps through a new partnership with Match Group, a major online dating company.

Noonlight, formerly known as SafeTrek, was founded by University of Missouri students Zach Winkler, Aaron Kunnemann, Brittany Dameron and Nick Droege as part of a technology competition.

With the new feature, users will be able to add information about their matches to the Noonlight feature, and alert emergency services if needed.

“Our integration with Tinder [will] provide an enhanced level of protection and comfort throughout the dating experience,” Droege wrote in a press release. “Meeting a new person can be an anxiety-inducing event for a myriad of reasons. In working closely with Match Group brands, our goal is to make sure safety isn’t one of those reasons.”

The partnership makes Match Group the first dating company to invest in emergency response services.

Despite the new safety features, Washington University officials advise students to still exercise caution when using dating apps.

“Do a little work and check out the person on other social media sites,” Washington University Police Department Chief Mark Glenn wrote in a statement to Student Life. “If you decide to meet someone in person, you should schedule the meeting in a public place and meet them there. During the day is also preferred. Have a plan for getting home and stick with your plan. There is nothing wrong with meeting someone in a public space for the first couple [of] meetings.”

Glenn also encouraged students to share their plans with a close friend or family member.

“Periodically text or message this person to update them so they know that you are okay,” he wrote. “As a general rule, you should always be cautious when you meet anyone online. Trust your instincts, and if you are not sure about someone, then don’t meet up with them!”

The University provides Noonlight to all students and faculty free of charge. To operate the Noonlight app, users simply hold their finger on a blue button in the center of the screen. When they reach their destination, they release the button and enter a four digit pin to confirm they are safe.

“If you feel a heightened sense of danger and would like assistance, release your thumb but do not enter the pin,” Glenn explained. “The Noonlight team will text and call you to make sure you are safe. If you do not respond, they will dispatch police, giving them your exact location, name and emergency.”

For students concerned about the recent security memos and crime alerts, the Noonlight app can be a practical part of the University’s plan to increase safety on and off campus.

“When I got to college, I became very anxious very quickly whenever venturing off campus,” sophomore Olivia Schotz said. “I downloaded the Noonlight app after feeling uncomfortable going anywhere at night, and while I’ve never actually felt the need to use it, it has helped suppress my anxiety when walking around St. Louis. Knowing that I am always somehow connected to safety has helped me feel like I really can explore this city without always worrying that I’m in danger.”

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