“Safety at your fingertips” is the catchphrase the University of Richmond Police Department (URPD) has been using in a campaign about a new app they hope all students download.
The free app, LiveSafe, can be downloaded off of the App Store or Google Play. According to several members of the campus community, it could be the next big thing for campus safety.
Co-founded by Virginia Tech shooting survivor Kristina Anderson and violent robbery victim Shy Pahlevani, LiveSafe's purpose, as described on its website, is to “enable two-way, real-time interaction between individuals and security and facilities teams.” LiveSafe is currently in use at over 150 universities and is customizable for each campus.
Steve Bisese, vice president of student development, views the implementation of this app as another step in the process of making campus as safe as possible.
“Student development is always looking for ways to improve campus safety and for more opportunities to keeps students safe,” Bisese said. “We are a small environment but we are not immune to safety issues. We want to do what’s best for the safety of our students.”
Once downloaded, the app provides several resources specific to UR. Available is a map of campus, a list of emergency procedures, a full list of all campus resources and contact information, as well as a tip hotline that connects directly with the URPD dispatch. Students can leave tips based on the type of incident, include photos, videos or recordings and choose whether they would like to report these tips anonymously.
SafeWalk, another one of the app's features, enables app users to “watch” each other as they walk if they feel unsafe. Students can select who will watch them, and they can communicate with campus authorities if an incident occurs. If a student does not wish to be watched and would rather be escorted, students can also select the escort option to have URPD accompany them.
Assistant Chief of Police Beth Simonds said she was pleased to have another avenue to get in touch with the entire student body quickly, in the event of an incident.
“None of this technology existed prior to Virginia Tech except mass email,” Simonds said. “Now, no matter what campus our students are on, if they are on a campus that uses the app, they can be alerted immediately if an incident around them occurs.”
As of now, approximately 550 students are registered on UR’s version of the app. URPD and student development have teamed up in a campaign effort to try to get all students signed up for the app.
As an incentive, URPD is offering a raffle on Sept. 29 for all students registered. Items included are an iPad mini, several Y-passes and a gift card to the campus bookstore.
URPD Officer Kelly Hoover is one of most visible proponents of the app. When the DMV To-Go visits campus on Sept.19, she will be there to continue spreading the word.
“This app is all about safety,” Hoover said. “The more eyes that are out there looking, the safer our campus will be.”
Alexis Szepesy, WC ‘19, said she had approved of the app and its implementation when she heard about it.
“I believe the app offers students an opportunity to ensure the safety of themselves and their peers,” Szepesy said. “I think the app offers a comprehensive way of ensuring students are given the tools necessary to remain safe, especially in a trying situation where it's difficult to know who you need to contact for help.”
Trevor Kaminsky, RC ‘19, also expressed how helpful it could be for first-year students who are unfamiliar with campus.
“LifeSafe could greatly benefit a lot of students on campus, especially early on in a freshman’s first semester when they do not know too many people,” Kaminsky said.
If you would like further information about LiveSafe and how it works, please contact URPD by visiting their office in the Special Programs Building or by calling their non-emergency number, (804) 289-8715.
Contact reporter Julia Raimondi at firstname.lastname@example.org.