Need a virtual quarantine buddy? Cornell students create new program amid COVID-19

Local News

ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In a time where physical distancing has become the new normal, a group of Cornell University students launched a new website, the Quarantine Buddy, a program aimed at connecting strangers and combating loneliness.

Sam Brickman, Jordyn Goldzweig and Alisa Lai are all Computer Science majors who wanted to take their skills to the next level to bring people together and help those in need.

“We noticed that people were feeling more socially isolated more than ever right now, and we wanted to build something to help people where people are still feeling connected to one another while still social distancing,” said Brickman, co-founder, Quarantine Buddy.

Left to right: Jordyn Goldzweig, Alisa Lai, Sam Brickman

“When this whole thing started, we realized we had so much free time on our hands and we have to figure out a good way to channel the stress and all of the negativity into something positive,” Jordyn Goldzweig, co-founder said.

To be matched with a buddy, all users have to do is answer 10 simple questions. Your name, contact information, age, gender, type of work you’re in and where you are quarantined.

Then, you can choose preferences for your quarantine buddy, specifically their age, gender and what you’re hoping to chat with them about.

“We built this matching algorithm which automatically goes through all of the signups and figures out the best possible pairings, introduces them together so the process is streamlined and doesn’t require a lot of manual work on our end either,” said Brickman.

After the match is finalized through the machine learning algorithm, users will receive a text with their buddy’s information. Then, they can connect with one another virtually.

We kind of were skeptical about whether people would be willing to talk to a complete stranger and if they’d be excited to talk to someone who they’ve never met before, but everyone seems super enthusiastic about this idea because they realize that everyone is really more similar then they previously thought going through this experience together. That’s really been a nice lesson that we’ve learned.

Sam Brickman, Junior, Cornell University

Quarantine Buddy launched April 1 and already, more than 6,000 users from 43 different countries have signed up for the program.

For more information on Quarantine Buddy, you can visit their website here.

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