Researchers at Virginia Tech have developed a new app to improve the safety of students and faculty members by introducing LiveSafe for mobile devices. The LiveSafe app provides a host of functions that can improve your personal safety when walking through campus alone.
The LiveSafe app was introduced to the Virginia Tech community by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). OEM serves the Virginia Tech community by helping students and faculty members to prepare for different kinds of emergencies that may happen.
The LiveSafe app was developed by LiveSafe, Inc. In the app, users can select from a list of college campuses. According to developers, all of the user's personal information is protected. OEM developed some content that is included in the app. The office's main goal is to ensure that the community is aware of both the app's availability and accessibility.
Users can report suspicious activity such as harassment or an on-campus disturbance with a picture, video or audio attachments. Users also have the option to report crimes anonymously.
“One of the other things it does (is) allow you to send a tip to the VT police department. If you see something, say something, you also get a way to communicate that,” said Michael Mulhare, director of emergency management at Virginia Tech. “Obviously, if it's an emergency, we want you to use 9-1-1 to report an emergency.”
Another important function of the app is the SafeWalk system. Through the system, users can request other users to monitor their location and watch them until they reach their destinations. This function can keep users' friends or family members updated on their location, as well as notifying immediately if some emergency happens to the user.
“SafeWalk is basically a digital buddy system for people who are unable to walk to their destination with a friend,” said Victoria Hill, the public relations specialist of OEM. “It allows for a little bit more peace of mind knowing that you didn’t get lost, you didn’t get hurt.”
OEM also included some useful Virginia Tech information in the app under a Virginia Tech Resources tab. For example, all of the buildings on campus are included in the app, and you can use the app to locate yourself in relation to buildings. Other information, like what to do in a specific emergency situation, can also be found under this section.
All of the information provided in the app can also be found on the OEM website.
The app has emergency options, which allows users to call 9-1-1 or campus police immediately. It can also help you to stay alert and avoid some places that may cause concerns.
“It's to enhance campus safety,” Mulhare said. “It's a way for our community to provide information back to public safety.”
There are approximately 7,200 users of the app so far on Virginia Tech's campus.
“I think (the number of the users is) a reflection of providing information about the app through orientation, and through our social media, and through our engagement with Virginia Tech students and faculty staff and the Virginia Tech community,” Mulhare said, “It's a number we hope to see continue to grow. It provides many functions for our community.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the amount of current app users at Virginia Tech. The article has been corrected to reflect this change.