The Carolina campus stays active around the clock. Students are up at all hours. Many employees are on the job well into the night. And research projects often demand attention from faculty members and graduate students before the sun comes up or long after it sets.
On a campus this size, with 40,000 students and faculty and staff working and studying at varying times, maintaining a safe environment has its challenges. But University administrators constantly look for ways to enhance campus safety.
The newest safety tool, the LiveSafe app, is now available for people who live and work on and around campus as well as their families and friends. LiveSafe turns smartphones into safety devices, providing discreet two-way communications with UNC Public Safety officials. Users can anonymously share suspicious activity with safety officials and submit their location if an emergency arises. They also can share their location with family members and friends, even as they are on the move.
Essentially, the new LiveSafe app provides an effective way to connect people with the help and resources they need, said Derek Kemp, associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management.
“LiveSafe, which has a proven track record among many of our peer universities, gives people the flexibility to get help quickly, to let others know where they are at any time, and to have ready access to important health and safety information,” he said.
UNC-Chapel Hill is currently working with LiveSafe to link the app to its Alert Carolina emergency notification system. Once complete, this will allow those who download the app to receive all Alert Carolina messages, helping further amplify these messages beyond the campus community. Users will also be able to access important University health and safety resources with one touch.
Two features are especially appealing to students, faculty and administrators: the GPS-based SafeWalk, which allows families and friends to virtually keep up with people as they walk from one place to another until they arrive safely; and a way to report anything suspicious, anonymously if people prefer, through text, photo or video messaging.
For Rachel Gogal, LiveSafe has personal significance. As a former Carolina student body vice president, she has worked extensively on student safety issues, which she hopes will benefit people like her brother, now a sophomore at Carolina, as well as grad students, faculty and staff members.
“At the end of the day, I think about my mom having some peace of mind that both her son and her daughter now have the means to turn their cell phones into safety devices, and that she too can receive important information from the University by using the app,” she said. “I also like knowing that the Carolina community can have this same peace of mind.”
Gogal, a 2016 graduate, is now a Chancellor’s Fellow who is working on the rollout of LiveSafe at Carolina.
The app is available for anyone who has an association with Carolina. That means students, faculty and staff, plus their family members, people in the local community and visitors to campus, including people who come here for athletic events. It replaces the University’s RaveGuardian app, which had a low usage rate and fewer features than LiveSafe offers.
The University decided to adopt the new app based on recommendations from the Nighttime Travel Working Group, which was commissioned last spring by vice chancellors Winston Crisp from Student Affairs and Matt Fajack from Finance and Administration to assess overall nighttime campus travel safety. Students, including Gogal, were familiar with LiveSafe and touted its capabilities.
Kemp, who led the working group, describes LiveSafe as part of a comprehensive CarolinaSafe program that provides multiple campus safety resources, including newly installed cameras in heavy traffic corridors, classroom training in how to respond during an emergency situation and an increased Public Safety presence downtown.
People can download LiveSafe, available for both iPhone and Android devices, then select the UNC-Chapel Hill affiliation and fill in their user profiles.
“We want people to download LiveSafe and use it,” Kemp said. “We also want them to share their feedback and experiences with us in terms of lessons learned or any improvements needed.” People can send feedback through the CarolinaSafe website at http://dps.unc.edu/carolinasafe/.)
By Patty Courtright
Published August 25, 2016.