Apps provide college students with safety at their fingertips

Apps provide college students with safety at their fingertips
(SOURCE: LiveSafe)
(SOURCE: LiveSafe)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Personal protection is getting an upgrade on college campuses thanks to new security features you can access with just a touch of a screen.

Plus, students are not the only ones getting the benefits.

Education major Lizzie Wakley likes to spend long hours in the library, sometimes heading home after dark.

"Oftentimes I find myself walking home by myself late at night," Wakley said.

But, Wakley has a secret safety weapon--her cellphone.

The phone is loaded with the "LiveSafe" app that can track her GPS location at all times and make an emergency call to campus police with a touch of a button.

"What we want to be able to do is track that student's location and get that information directly to the university police department," Tom Saccenti, a representative for the National Association of Campus Safety, said.

Saccenti said he believes it is important for all colleges to equip students with safety apps and encourage their use.

"We see colleges throughout the countries establishing app programs," he said. "It's one additional tool that we provide to our students and give them an option to use when they're out on campus and feel unsafe."

There are many different apps to choose from, each with a variety of safety features.

Kitestring will time your walk, alerting friends or family if you don't check in after a certain time.

LiveSafe will live track your GPS so you're easily located in an emergency.

React Mobile will allow you to send an emergency message through text, email, even Twitter or Facebook, including your GPS coordinates.

The Safecaster can livestream and record video in an emergency.

"No one's going to be able to use this app to prevent crime from occurring. What the app will do is it will foster an environment of safety on our campus so that people are reporting things to us and engaging the police department," Saccenti said.

While these apps are not meant to replace 911, campus safety officials said they can be another layer of protection.

"The 911 system doesn't traditionally have the ability to track a student and know their exact location and continue that tracking once the call is ended or once the call is made," Saccenti said.

As for Wakley, she said if nothing else - it's great for peace of mine.

"I feel safer walking alone," she said.

You don't have to be in college to take advantage of these apps. Many are free for anyone to download. In the future, some speculate that universities could be mandated to provide this level of protection as part of their regular campus security fees.

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