In a time when campus crime and active shooters are more than just occasional headlines on a page, the University of La Verne has begun to reach out to the on-campus community, in part, via a downloadable app.
The LiveSafe app, through ULV, offers students various features such as voiceless alert systems, anonymous reporting of suspicious activity and the option to request an escort or alert friends of your location and route when walking around campus.
Eugene Shang, associate director of residence life, does not think enough students know the app exists.
“Ultimately it is up to the students, but a part of it is how we are making the information available,” Shang said.
Resident assistants were trained over the summer on the LiveSafe app and encouraged to promote it.
Nina Doyle, senior psychology major, is an RA at Oaks and sometimes she takes time to walk her residents through the app’s features.
“I had campus safety walk around with me, and we talked to everyone in the lounges and made sure they were updated with the app and the alert notification system,” Doyle said.
However, Doyle believes the University needs to reach out beyond its on-campus community.
“We have a large commuter base too, and RAs can’t reach them,” Doyle said. “Signs and posters help but mostly human interaction and talking about it is really helpful to get students interacting with the app.”
The app is designed around simplicity and immediacy, but the only drawback seems to come from the app’s accessibility. Raising students’ awareness and getting them to download and use the app is the biggest issue.
“I think the University is trying,” Shang said. “I am hoping that the incident that happened at Oaks brings more awareness to students of their safety.”
Clive Houston-Brown, vice president of facility and technology services, said the University adopted the LiveSafe app about a year ago.
“We are taking proactive steps to get the word out there through posters, through fliers, emails and mobile media, but even old fashioned stuff like posters help,” Houston-Brown said. “We always make sure we have a presence at freshman orientations and try to make sure students sign up right then and there.”
The app has four key features: Report Tips, University Map, Emergency Contacts and Go Safe, which features Safe Walk.
“Safe Walk allows someone to watch your progress to your destination, so if you tell your friends, ‘Hey I am walking back to Oaks, can you watch me on my safe walk?’ They can see your progress,” Houston-Brown said. “If suddenly you deviate down Bonita they know something is wrong.”
Report Tips allows the user to anonymously ‘see something, say something’ and report any suspicious activity to campus safety who can receive the alert and respond quickly.
“Emergency contacts allows you to call 911 or call campus safety by pushing a button,” Houston-Brown said. “We are looking to add a third one, which is to call the La Verne Police Department directly as opposed to 911.”
Knowing that help is only a finger tap away could potentially bring many students at the University a greater sense of safety.
“It is a really cool app with a lot of good resources not a lot of students know about it,” Doyle said.
Houston-Brown said the LiveSafe app is only as good as the proactivity of the students.
“There are so many apps out there and sometimes students and faculty and staff just get complacent,” Houston-Brown said.
The University wants more students to download the app and use it, not only for their safety, but also so they can provide much needed feedback.
“Simplicity is not always the best, sometimes you want robustness and that is what we are looking for,” Houston-Brown said. “We want more features in there, and we are looking how to improve and expand it.”
Of course, there is no way to know when tragedy might strike or an accident may happen on campus, but the University is trying to provide its students something not easily gained: peace of mind.
Kendra Craighead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.