The Collegian
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Campus police launch safety app to empower bystanders

<p>The Special Programs Building houses transportation services,&nbsp;the student health center, university police department and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies.&nbsp;</p>

The Special Programs Building houses transportation services, the student health center, university police department and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. 

In partnership with the Office of Student Development, the University of Richmond Police Department has introduced a safety app called LiveSafe.

The app is meant to empower bystanders to act when they become aware of suspicious activity, Beth Simonds, assistant chief of police, said.

In 2013, David McCoy, associate vice president of public safety, met Kristina Anderson, founder of the Koshka Foundation and a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. Anderson advocated for the use of LiveSafe Mobile Safety App, Simonds said.

McCoy then partnered with Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, to bring the app to campus. Officer Kelly Hoover was instrumental in promoting the LiveSafe app, Simonds said.

The app was launched Oct. 25 and is available to all Richmond staff, faculty and students. In the app, the user has the option to choose from reporting tips, a safety map and listed emergency contacts. In addition, campus police can begin a real-time interaction with the user to ensure that the user and others around them are safe.

The app also lets the user anonymously send pictures, audio clips and videos, allowing campus police to be informed of a safety issue quicker and more efficiently.

The university's LiveSafe includes a feature called SafeWalk, which gives users the option to share their location with others so friends and family can check to see if they made it safely to their destination.

"A lot of times at night if I'm coming back pretty late, it can be a little scary," freshman Brian Sun said. "So I think it would be good to be able to share your location with friends and make sure that everyone is okay."

SafeWalk also lets users request a campus police escort or call 911.

LiveSafe also makes it easier to find campus and local resources, such as phone numbers and emergency procedures.

The LiveSafe app can be downloaded from either Google Play or the App Store. Users must register with an email address and fill out the profile once the app is downloaded.

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Simonds hopes that LiveSafe will be able to help members of the university community feel safer on campus, and she welcomes feedback on the app.

"I like the idea for the app," freshman Valerie Galati said. "I am not sure how willing most people would be to download it to their phones."

Contact reporter Sydney Collins at

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