The University of Richmond released a new safety app named UR SpiderSafe on Jan. 25 that is available on iPhone and Android devices, according to UR’s emergency management website.
UR SpiderSafe is the product of a new partnership with Rave Mobile Safety, a company that provides virtual safety software including an easily customizable app, UR Police Department Maj. Eric Beatty said.
“This app just had so many features to ping the police department and address safety concerns,” Beatty said. “It was just a no brainer.”
The app features 15 unique icons available for use, ranging from links to report tips personally or anonymously to a walk tracker, which allows users to share their location with a friend or URPD to ensure that they get to their destination safely.
The university previously used a similar app through LiveSafe, another software company specializing in safety features. However, UR’s contract with LiveSafe ended in early 2023. They were already using Rave for the emergency notification system and opted to use them to create a new safety app as well, Beatty said.
Maribel Street, director of emergency management, has worked on the app since she was hired in October 2022, she said. Now, she’s tasked with advertising it to the student body.
“We’re just trying to do different techniques to let people know that the app has switched over. When I was doing the tabling event, people were like, ‘Oh, I already have it’, and they’d show it to me and it was the old app,” Street said. “So we’re just trying to educate people that it is a new more functioning app.”
As of Feb. 24, 179 people had downloaded the app, according to a follow-up email Street sent to the Collegian.
“It’s a slow roll just because a lot of it ends up being word of mouth,” Street said. “And so we are working with orientation, possibly the wellness 100 classes, things like that to advertise.”
Sophomore Elena Zerkin, a member of UR Emergency Medical Services, worked alongside Street to advertise the app in Tyler Haynes Commons last week.
“This app, if used effectively, could greatly increase student safety and comfort,” Zerkin said. “Knowing that someone can monitor your walk home or that help is always at your fingertips, and not just with a phone call, could make students feel safer at night or in more secluded parts of campus.”
In an effort to encourage more students to download the app, Street will also be holding monthly raffle drawings through the app, she said. Anyone who downloads and registers through the app is eligible, with prizes like UR merchandise.
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However, taking the time to figure out how to navigate the app and use its features is crucial, Zerkin said.
The app is still a work in progress and can have new features added to it in the future, so student feedback is crucial, Beatty said.
“If there are students who have recommendations or questions, any feedback that students have please let us know,” Beatty said. “Anything that y’all can get back to us is welcome.”
Contact Caitlin McCormack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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