Students walking alone at night will soon be able to use a new smartphone app aimed at helping them arrive at their destinations safely on Emory’s Atlanta and Oxford campuses.
The Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) will launch the app LiveSafe for Emory Thursday, Nov. 17, in hopes to increase emergency and general safety for the community, according to CEPAR Senior Administrator Sam Shartar. The app will be available for download to Apple and Android smartphones.
The app’s features allow users to alert Emory Police Department (EPD) and other safety agencies about safety concerns on campus, call or text EPD and call 911, request a SafeRide shuttle and look up safety resources both at Emory and in the greater Atlanta area. Additionally, users can request SafeWalk, which allows another user to virtually track the user’s location and ensure that the user arrives at a specified location by a certain time.
Although the app is intended to track a user’s location, some settings such as tip reporting allow anonymity, only sending EPD certain information — for example, the location of an incident, but not the user’s contact information.
Oxford students will also be able to use the app, though it will feature an Oxford-specific resources tab.
Emory is signed into a three year contract for the app and is paying with funds from the Student Activity Fee and Employee Benefit Fees, Shartar said.
More than 120 other universities, including Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University, use LiveSafe, according to the app’s website.
CEPAR worked with several campus agencies over the past year to develop the app. The office worked with Emory Safety Alliance (ESA), which consists of members from other campus groups, such as Student Government Association (SGA), the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO) and Student Health Services (SHS).
Most crucial to the app’s success is a high number of users, according to ESA Chairs Michael Huey, assistant vice president and executive director of SHS, and Patricia Olinger, EHSO director. More users increases the likelihood that potential dangers on campus will be reported, and will also help reveal any bugs in the app’s code, Huey said.
“We talk about herd immunity; this is it,” Huey said. “If people don’t download it and make use of it, [LiveSafe] isn’t going to be the tool that we want it to be.”
Olinger also noted the importance of collecting user feedback to improve the app.
Student Government Association (SGA) President and College senior Max Zoberman, whose campaign for SGA president included a promise to launch such an app, said he supports the app’s development and funding because it provides students with physical and mental safety.
“Students are going to use [this app] regardless of their division of enrollment, regardless of their class year, regardless of their identity,” Zoberman said. “If that’s going to be true, then we should also bring some resources to help make it happen.”
Shartar said he hopes to connect Emory with other app communities, such as Georgia Tech, to better protect those travelling between campuses.
Olinger said she hopes the app will improve communication on campus safety and campus attitudes toward safety.
“This is not to say that [Emory is] an unsafe campus, because it isn’t, it just gives that comfort,” Olinger said.