Looking to Improve Campus Safety? There’s an App for That
Nowadays, many campuses are incorporating technology into keeping their constituents safe. Community-driven communication is one of the best ways to protect students and faculty because it gives them easy access to information anytime and anywhere.
One of the more popular ways campus communities are implementing these methods is through campus safety apps.
“Technology-wise, we’ve learned that if we’re going to communicate well with this age group on campus, we’ve got to be able to use the mechanisms they’re addicted to and that they love, and when we do that, we’re more successful in getting the message out about safety,” said Anne P. Glavin, chief of police at California State University Northridge and past president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA).
Safety apps benefit police officers, university officials and the student body, and there are plenty of options. Here are some of the most popular ones to use on your campus, based on whether they are for:
- Law enforcement/security personnel
LAW ENFORCEMENT & SECURITY PERSONNEL
One of the most popular law enforcement apps, US Cop provides a variety of resources, including accident investigation formulas, a pill identifier with photos of commonly abused prescription drugs, as well as video tutorials and CPR guidelines.
The app also allows officers to take photos for evidence that include date and time stamps and GPS location to aid evidence storage and investigations.
Police Field Interview Card
This app is designed to assist law enforcement and security officers with generating field interview cards and field contact reports by streamlining the in-field interview process. Officers can create interview cards on their phones and organize subjects’ personal information, bio-data and document gang affiliation, marks and tattoos.
You can attach images to the cards and organize information by name, case number or subject type. Field Interview cards can be easily emailed from your phone, and the app can be customized for individual departments.
V5 Systems MMS (Multi-Sensor Monitoring System) 
The V5 Systems MMS allows law enforcement to view live video, set up video analytics to alert them if a person or vehicle is within their defined zone at defined times, and will also alert them if a gunshot goes off by sending them a text message that pinpoints the sound of the gunshot and a 10-second video of what the camera is seeing at the time of the event.
All this information is being transmitted from V5 Systems’ 100% self-powered, outdoor security solutions. Chemical detection is slated for 2018. The app is available on Android and iOS.
This free iPhone app designed for students allows them to let a friend monitor them when they are leaving one location and traveling to another. The phone’s GPS tracks their trip and alerts their friend when they arrive at their destination.
Along the way, the app asks users to confirm they are safe. If they do not respond within 15 seconds, the app alerts their friend or law enforcement. Users can also dial 911 with the tap of one button.
Revolar takes advantage of the growing wearable technology trend by pairing a safety app with a portable “panic button.” Designed with the rising campus sexual assault numbers in mind, the small device syncs with the mobile app and can be carried on a key ring or in a pocket. The device has one button that users can press to automatically notify a pre-selected list of contacts when they’re in trouble.
The device allows for three alerts: users single-press the button to notify contacts of their location, double-press the button for a yellow alert if they feel uncomfortable but aren’t sure they’re in danger and triple-press for a red alert, which means call for help.
The small device separate from the phone serves two purposes: 1) It allows people to discreetly call for help, 2) If someone’s phone isn’t nearby or an attacker takes it, they can still send an alert.
bSafe is a free app for both iOS and Android devices that has several safety features. It allows users to create a list of emergency contacts, called Guardians, to alert when in trouble. The main features include Alert Friends, which sounds an alarm to notify contacts of a user’s location and records live video of the situation.
Similar to Companion, users can have friends follow them remotely to their destination. The feature includes a timer mode, which automatically sends an SOS message if users don’t check in before the timer expires. There’s also a Fake Call feature that will call the user’s device so they can discreetly get out of uncomfortable situations, such as a troublesome date or party.
React is a safety app that includes several platforms, including a portable panic button and software for dispatchers. Like other safety apps, it allows users to create a list of emergency contacts to notify when threats emerge. The main screen includes three buttons: I’m fine, Follow me and Help me.
Follow me provides emergency contacts with the user’s location and tracks their travel. The other two options notify contacts of users’ safety. The Help me button notifies contacts and also includes an SOS option to automatically call 911.
SECURITY PERSONNEL AND STUDENTS
Several universities partner with AppArmor to create custom mobile safety apps for their campuses. It gives users instant access to safety resources, such as security contact numbers to raise awareness and improve emergency response.
Campus security can send important information to students and faculty through unlimited push notifications, advanced location sharing can track users’ whereabouts, and users can send anonymous crime tips and chat with dispatchers in real-time. It also includes a “mobile blue light” that lets users send their location to police to monitor their walk. Colleges can customize the app with their institution’s branding.
Campus Eye enables students, faculty and staff to report safety or facility issues to campus security in a customized app. Users take a photo or video of the location of an incident and enter a description of suspicious behavior or individuals. The app geotags the image and creates a map of the location as well as a time and date stamp. Notifications can be sent immediately to security personnel.
The app can also be branded and customized for individual schools. Crime tips can be sent anonymously.
Created by a survivor of the Virginia Tech mass shooting, LiveSafe allows users to send crime tips in real-time to security officials. Users can send text, photos and videos that include GPS locations to report suspicious activity or safety threats. Security officials communicate with users via a cloud-based secure live chat.
The app allows officials to send mass notifications for emergencies, and it includes safety resources and peer-to-peer safety tools.
My Police Department
This free app helps connect law enforcement with the community so they can better serve them. Users can report anonymous crime tips to officers and asks questions, while officers can provide pertinent information to the community. More than 200 agencies nationwide are using it, including many colleges.
While traditional 911 calls can be routed to responders far away, this app uses geo-fences to ensure calls are directed directly to the agency that can respond quickest. The app also includes an Indoor Positioning System (IPS) which can pinpoint horizontal and vertical location. So it can not only indicate the building a caller is in, but also the floor in a multi-story building.
The app also allows users to send text, photos or photos to security personnel to provide crime tips. It also includes mass notifications.
Mobile Apps are the New ‘Blue Light’
Mobile apps are the new campus emergency system, as many colleges are pondering removing traditional “blue light” phones, something the University of Colorado has already done in favor of an app.
Apps allow law enforcement to gather and track information while on the move and gives students a better sense of safety on and around campus.
 Campus Safety Mobile Apps. The National Center for Campus Public Safety. https://www.nccpsafety.org/assets/files/library/Campus_Safety_Mobile_Apps.pdf
 US Cop. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.qbiki.UScop&hl=en
 Police Field Interview Card. http://www.wavesystems.com/
 V5 Systems. http://v5systems.us/products/v5psu-ptz/
 Companion App. https://companionapp.io/
 Revolar. https://revolar.com/
 Protecting Students from Sexual Assault. U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gov/ovw/protecting-students-sexual-assault
 bSafe. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bsafe-personal-safety-app/id459709106?mt=8
 React Mobile. https://reactmobile.com/home/download/
 AppArmor. https://www.apparmor.com/
 Campus Eye. https://www.getcampuseye.com/
 LiveSafe. https://www.livesafemobile.com/
 My Police Department. http://mypdapp.com/
 911 Cellular. https://www.911cellular.com/
 Why We are Removing the Campus Blue Light Phones. CU Boulder Today. http://www.colorado.edu/today/2015/12/14/police-chief-why-we-are-removing-campus-blue-light-phones