This is the first in a two-part series about a mobile application designed to improve public safety and awareness at college campuses. In today’s feature, FirstNet talks to the co-founder of LiveSafe – Kristina Anderson – about her motivations for developing the application. In part two, FirstNet will profile one of the largest users of LiveSafe.
By Kyle Richardson, Public Affairs Specialist
Several public safety departments at colleges and universities across the country are using a new mobile application that is designed to enhance information sharing among students, faculty, public safety answering points, and first responders. Called LiveSafe, the application leverages smartphone technology to enable users to exchange information for prevention, safety, and assistance purposes.
The creators of LiveSafe are familiar with the need to improve safety on campus. Kristina Anderson, who is a co-founder, was wounded in the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech. “It’s important to learn from previous events, for instance our shooter had dozens of interactions with the school before he actually opened fire,” Kristina told FirstNet. “Our hope would have been that more students would have reported his suspicious behavior beforehand or alerted the appropriate authorities.”
Kristina says the application helps users request assistance during emergencies, but also has a prevention feature that issues notices and warnings to improve awareness and hopefully prevent incidents from developing. “Traditionally, the way that we’ve been trained is to come to the police when there is an actual emergency, but that’s often too late - now you are mitigating it, you’re not preventing,” Kristina said. “Our mission is to improve everyday safety for students and faculty, by adding to their tools of prevention.”
The app’s main screen provides four options for users to communicate safety concerns, and also receive help in distress: Report Tips, Emergency, View Map, and SafeWalk. The tips feature allows participants to submit tips, anonymously, through a message by capturing photos, videos or audio recordings as evidence, of instances ranging from disturbance and vandalism, to assault and suspicious activities. The other components enable users to dial 911 or a pre-coded campus security number, which dispatchers would receive with the user’s location details. Additionally, with the SafeWalk feature, users can select a friend or family member to provide them with their location and ability to chat, while they are walking home late from the library, for instance, which is tracked by GPS.
Kristina says LiveSafe is currently working with college campuses, military installations, stadiums, and communities in 14 states. In the future, the LiveSafe team will look to grow their user base to new markets such as cities, towns, elementary and high schools, and local public safety agencies.