New app helps find mates in trouble at music festivals
Schoolies have embraced a new app specially designed to keep track of friends at music festivals.
The SearchParty app was developed by Gold Coast brothers Jessy and Jade Mulholland after last year's tragic spate of deaths at festivals.
The app, which is free to download, is designed to enable friends to view their friends' live locations and seek medical attention in a crisis.
Launched in March, CEO Jade Mulholland, 26, said personal experience inspired its creation.
"My brother and I attend a lot of music festivals and we would lose friends so it is always a problem to track down your friends and your phone not working properly due to network congestion so we thought let's solve this problem through technology," he said.
The GPS tracking app allows friends to create their own "party" and uses low latency architecture so it still works when other applications like messenger or trying to call someone fails.
Joshua Tam, 22, died after taking MDMA and losing his friends at the Paradise music festival on the NSW Central Coast on December 29 last year.
Alexandra Ross-King also lost her friends on January 12 at the FOMO music festival in Parramatta. She died from complications MDMA toxicity.
Earlier intervention could have saved their lives.
"Our tests have found we can find people down to a metre accuracy," Mr Mulholland said.
"You are a little orange marker on the map and all your friends are avatars on the map in their location and you can see them moving in real time and you walk in their direction getting closer and closer and when you are on them, look up and you'll be right next to them
"The app also has an alert button to directly call emergency services or friends when assistance is required.
"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."
There have been more than 11,000 downloads so far.
"More than half has come in the last two weeks from schoolies," he said.
"We've added some features so you can pin your hotel, or your tent if you are at a festival, where the police station is, beach party, etc., but all of that can stay private if they chose to be."
Miami school leaver Kasey Hatton and his mates downloaded the app before attending schoolies last week. When one of their friends ended up drunk, they tracked him down to the Red Frog tent at 2am.
"He had too much to drink and got separated from us and he wasn't able to call for help but we could find his position on the app and he was with the SES and Red Frogs so we were able to collect him and walk him back to our apartment," Kasey, 17, said.
"It's like a tracking back thing that sets your location and you can see where your friends are and if you get separated, you can pin point them."