DPS releases update for mobile safety app LiveSafe

The Dept. of Public Safety released an update for the mobile safety application LiveSafe. The update, which took effect last Tuesday, allows students to call Campus Cruiser through the interface.

The SafeWalk feature that allows students to input their destination so that friends can track each other on a map has also been updated. Now friends can request a SafeWalk for someone else. The update should occur automatically on both Apple and Android devices.

The app still allows people to report emergencies and send tips about safety hazards using text messages, photos and video but now when people open the app the icon that used to be labeled SafeWalk is called StaySafe.

If students launch the StaySafe feature they can call campus cruiser or start a SafeWalk.

The app, customized for USC, was made available to all students, faculty and staff in November and there have been 4,700 downloads since, according to Jill Frater, business continuity specialist at USC Fire Safety and Emergency Planning. The SafeWalk feature has been used 903 times.

“In speaking with the vendor of LiveSafe they’ve said we’ve done probably a better job than other universities in terms of the number of users downloading it after launch,” Frater said.

But DPS Deputy Chief David Carlisle said outreach is very much an ongoing process, and the department has a long way to go toward reaching its goal of every student, faculty member and staff member downloading the app.

“Last week I spoke to a large group of incoming grad students both at the University Park Campus and the Health Science Campus.” Carlisle said.

He added that community outreach officers have also gone to the private housing developments including the Lorenzo and University Gateway Apartments and spoken about including LiveSafe information in leasing information packets.

Some students including second-year global communications graduate student  Shijia Ouyang said as an international student from China, safety is a big concern, especially since the murders of Chinese nationals Ming Qu and Ying Wu in 2012 and Xinran Ji over the summer.

“I went to a lecture for international students where they told me they would develop an app in the future,” Ouyang said.  “I received the email [about the app] so I downloaded it but actually I don’t know how to use it. I wish I could find some instruction.”

Becky Teper, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said she’d heard of the app but hadn’t downloaded it because she didn’t know enough about it to feel comfortable using it.

“I would consider getting it but I would have to see what the features were first,” Teper said. “I definitely think it will be effective in targeting students.  Most students have smartphones so it’s a good way for them to communicate with DPS.”

DPS Communications Supervisor Sandra Young said a large amount of activity that occurred in the month following the launch was students testing the app to see how the features worked, something the department encouraged.

“We haven’t received any type of priority one, which is emergency-type calls,” Young said.  “Last month it was more geared toward maintenance or service issues like people being locked out or people reporting anything they think is suspicious.”

DPS received 93 communications through the app in December, Young said.

Frater said there has been a great deal of feedback and helpful suggestions so far.

“We want to reach out whenever and wherever we can,” she said. “We want to continue to make it better and we want to continue to get that feedback.”