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App aims to keep students safe

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LiveSafe is a nationally acclaimed police app that reaches out to students on college campuses in order to help them feel safe.

LiveSafe was created and co-founded by Kristina Anderson, a survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings that took place in April 2007. Anderson wanted to play an active role in reducing crime on campus after entering class unaware of the shootings and being struck three times.

The app allows students to send anonymous crime tips to their campus police through audio, images and video. The app also has built-in GPS so police know exactly where the tip came from. Students can also make phone calls through the app, view local crime updates and even have a virtual escort when walking alone late at night. LiveSafe is another way for students to report crimes without feeling in danger, but some students still prefer the traditional way of calling 9-1-1.

“It depends on the crime. If it’s something serious then you won’t use the app even though it is quicker,” Krystal Jamason, senior information systems major said.

“You feel more safe hearing someone’s voice saying it’ll be OK andthey’re on their way.”

LiveSafe is currently in use at six universities. One of them, Virginia Commonwealth University has over 4,200 students and faculty with the app downloaded.  Even though LiveSafe has many beneficial features, ISU already has a similar app/program called Bird Watch.

“Like LiveSafe, [Bird Watch] provides a campus resource map, crime statistics, reporting tools and a number of other campus safety features,” ISU Police Chief Aaron Woodruff said.

“The use of a mobile app provides another way for students and the police department to communicate.”

Woodruff said that LiveSafe’s virtual escort feature is the only thing Bird Watch does not have, but its response time can be a problem when used off campus. Currently, ISU police have no plans to bring LiveSafe to campus and are confident with the Bird Watch program.

In addition to the app, organizations can sign up for a one-hour Bird Watch training session and there are also Bird Watch posters and warning signs around campus to warn criminals. ISU also has Emergency Alert, which sends immediate notifications to phones and emails whenever there is a problem.

“Our campus, like most campuses is safe, but crime still occurs despite our best efforts,” Woodruff said.

“The vast majority of our reported crimes are property crimes such as thefts, burglaries and criminal damage; however, a common denominator to most of our crimes is alcohol.”

Both LiveSafe and Bird Watch are available at the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Whichever medium students to choose to use, they are encouraged to always stay aware and be alert.

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