JSU’s Department of Public Safety is preparing to launch on Wednesday its new “JSU SAFE” app, which delivers real-time alerts about inclement weather, general activities and crime, and it helps puts safety in the hands of students, faculty and staff with just a simple tap of their mobile phones.
Public Safety sees the app as a game-changer as JSU seeks to assure the campus community and its stakeholders that safety really is a top priority of officers and the administration. JSU Safe, formed in partnership with the AppArmor brand, is available via the App Store and Google Play.
Capt. Janet Samuel said, “Students, along with everyone else, should take advantage of this new app because information is shared to our dispatch in real time, allowing us to respond to emergencies in just seconds. This will help us save precious time because, typically, it could take 10 minutes for police to arrive at a crime scene. Unfortunately, by then, the perpetrator may have fled already.”
Eliminating hassles and sign-in steps
Added Samuels, “Students already have their phones in their hands. This app makes it so easy because it breaks everything down for them by eliminating hassles and sign-in steps that can be so time-consuming. This is a great safety tool for faculty and staff as well. It comes with emergency plans and instructs them on what to do in the event of a crime.”
Among the features:
- Friend Walk: Users can share their real-time location to a friend so he or she can watch as the friend walks to a particular destination. The app allows a friend to trigger a call to emergency services, if necessary.
- Virtual Walkhome: This function allows individuals to Inform campus police where they’re traveling so officers can keep an eye on them, if necessary. As well, this selection uses location services on the mobile phone and can activate a 911 call on the cell phone, too.
- Mobile BlueLight: Much like Walkhome, the BlueLight feature lets users send their location to campus police so they can be monitored on their walk. Simply tap the button, and the information goes straight to campus police.
Emily Bishop is director of JSU’s Academic IT and is helping to facilitate the implementation of the app. She describes the app as user-friendly.
Bishop said, “The app is tailored to Jackson State University. So, faculty, staff and students can see what’s happening on campus as it relates to an event or tragic episode and will know how to react quickly if feeling threatened in any way. For example, If when walking from the library and you notice you’re being followed, just press a couple buttons and Public Safety will be notified.”
Supporting two-way communication
She’s especially pleased that the app allows students to control what happens through the use of their hands. She said another benefit is that the app supports two-way communication.
“With the previous system, the campus simply was told what was happening – whether the event was an approaching storm or an active shooter. Now, we can communicate back to Public Safety. An individual can even request an escort back to their dorm,” Bishop added.
Looking back at the previous emergency notification system, Bishop said messages usually were delivered in the form of an email, text message or phone call. While texting does work, she still believes an app is more effective, particularly if alerts are turned on.
“Sometimes, if we don’t instantly recognize a number, we don’t always answer the phone. The same is true with a text. If we don’t recognize the source, we may not open it either. Along with that, some important emails might end up in spam. The great things about this particular app is that it works with Android and IOS devices.”
“The unveiling of this app is a great time for Jackson State University, especially with so much going on in the world today. It can alert the campus about COVID situations. The app is an ideal tool for however the university wants to customize it, and it’s a great place for everyone to see and learn information,” Bishop said.