LiveSafe is Live
It’s 10 p.m. and you have to walk from the Driscoll Fitness Center back to St. Mike’s Hall all by yourself. As you pass the Film School, you notice one of the lampposts overlooking the parking lot is burnt out. Halfway through your trek across the Quad, a student props open the back exit to King Hall for some older guys you’ve never seen before. They hand the student a small bag. It could be anything, but the whole scenario feels a little shady.
Do you: a) ask a friend to watch you make your way back home; b) notify Facilities of the burnt out light; c) make an anonymous report about the creepers hanging out by King; or d) all of the above? With the LiveSafe smartphone app, you can do all of these things in a matter of minutes. The convenience of mobile technology increases communication speed and utilizes GPS coordinates to let your friends know your exact location.
LiveSafe made its official debut at the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester, with Safety and Security Manager Larry Samuel providing demos for students at orientation.
“A lot of universities and colleges are transitioning to this now,” Samuel says. “A lot of universities have a security phone, but you have to get to the phone to make the call. But with this app, you can do it from pretty much anywhere with your smart phone.”
Despite initial efforts to educate the student body about LiveSafe, general awareness among students is still lacking. Out of 28 students Jackalope surveyed about LiveSafe, 11 said they had heard of it, and only two had used it.
“I got an e-mail about it a few weeks before school started,” says freshman Film major Mariel Chiong.
Chiong said her parents were interested in trying it out, but they entered in the user information incorrectly, using Chiong’s e-mail address and her father’s phone number, which hindered the app’s ability to function properly.
“Which is the main reason I haven’t really touched the app since the first week I got here,” Chiong says. “I’ve never had a reason to fix the problem. I haven’t felt like I was unsafe on campus.”
Several students told Jackalope that they were probably unaware of the app because they live off campus. Others thought the app was still in demo mode.
“We’re fixin’ to start handing out fliers and send a couple e-mails out,” says Director of Student Life Ryan Davis, betraying his Texan roots. “I think we’re going to offer some sessions for students…particularly for returning students, because all the first year students that were here for orientation went through a session.”
The app allows students to contact security or emergency services at the touch of a button, and uses smartphone push notifications to inform students of campus-wide emergencies. It also lets friends track your progress on a map as you walk across campus. Simply type in the name of the building you’re headed to and the app will drop a pin at that location and plot your course.
Within the “Report Tips” section, students can notify security of injuries, mental health concerns or harassment, among many other options. Hit one of the media buttons at the top of the report to take a photo, a video or record audio to include with your tip. And if you’re not comfortable having your name attached to the report, just tap on the “Send anonymously” button to preserve your anonymity.
“Students can be hesitant to give information and report concerns,” Samuel says. “If it’s anonymous, they can report without getting involved.”
Junior Creative Writing and Literature major Charli Renken started using the app in its demo mode last semester. So far, she has primarily used the app to report safety concerns.
“I think it will make it easier for students to come forward with things,” Renken says. “Before, it was more arduous for students to report things or an incident would happen and students wouldn’t get around to reporting it until later. I think this makes things so easy and it also gives students no excuse not to report concerns…It’s such an immediate process. Everyone’s already on their phone.”
Renken finds the app so useful that she gave a presentation about it in her African American Culture class.
“Our class ends at 8:30 pm, and the sun has already set, so I thought it was important that people know about this app,” Renken says. “People seemed to be happy that we had it, but not everyone seemed to know about it.”
Security has only received a few reports from students so far, mostly for noise complaints or burnt out lights across campus.
“We’re trying to get this out to as many people as we can,” Samuel says. “Some students will see something, but they won’t say something. But within this app, you can enter it in. We’re just trying to spread the word about this across campus. If you see something, say something…It’s for your safety, too.”
The LiveSafe app is available for download on iPhone, Android and Windows phones.