As students prepare to head back to class, the University of Connecticut is using advanced technology to enhance campus safety. UConn has recently launched a new app, which they say will create a safer campus community.
Most college students have dozens of cell phone apps -- some for entertainment, others for more practical purposes. UConn’s LiveSafe app is one that university police have launched in advance of the fall semester.
UConn’s LiveSafe app will give university community members a direct communications link with campus police. They can send pictures, video, and text message directly to the school’s emergency communication center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere on any of the school’s campuses.
“(Students) can have a little sense of security that people are keeping an eye on them so to speak as they are moving around our campuses,” said UConn Police Lieutenant Justin Gilbert.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
UConn police say this app was designed after the student government said there was a need to close security gaps. It could also help build student confidence in campus safety.
“I think it’s helpful. I feel like it probably would create a bigger sense of trust within the community,” said UCONN student, Roshni Vasudevan.
The app provides a clear map of all campus emergency blue lights and provides the ability to have a virtual on-campus walking partner, through a feature called “SafeWalk.”
“Despite all the blue lights here, I feel like that’s definitely a progressive move for them and definitely something that the students will appreciate,” said UConn student Dan Doherty.
The “SafeWalk” feature uses a GPS locator through Google Maps, allowing friends and contacts to see exactly where a student is on campus. An alert can be set and triggered if a student does not arrive at their destination when expected.
“I’ve always felt safe, but I also realized there are members of the community here who wouldn’t, and I think it’s important to protect them,” said UConn professor Doug Kauffman.
Encouraging more interaction with students, the app provides the ability to report emergencies anonymously. Campus police say students are more inclined to report incidents if they do not feel at risk doing so.
“As safe as we can make them feel to report things that happen will allow us to investigate them and hopefully make the overall community a safer place,” added Lieutenant Gilbert.
The app can also help students who are in mental health crisis, directly connecting them to resources if needed. It can be downloaded at universitysafety.uconn.edu.