College kids are back on campus and many parents at home worry about their child's safety. Now, new mobile phone apps can increase peace of mind.
Education major Lizzie Wakley likes to spend long hours in the library and sometimes she heads home after dark.
"Often times I find myself walking home by myself late at night."
But Wakley has a secret safety weapon-- her cell phone. It's loaded with the Livesafe app that can track her GPS location at all times and make an emergency call to campus police with a touch of a button.
"What we want to be able to do is track that student's location and get that information directly to the university police department," said Tom Saccenti, National Association of Campus Safety.
The president of the National Association of Campus Safety Administrators believes it's important for all colleges to equip students with safety apps and encourage their use.
"We see colleges throughout the country establishing app programs. It's one additional tool that we provide to our students and give them an option to use when they're out on campus and feel unsafe," said Saccenti.
There are many different apps to choose from each with a variety safety features. "Kite String" will time your walk and alert friends or family if you don't check in after a certain time. "LiveSafe" tracks your GPS so you're easily located in an emergency. "ReactMobile" allows you to send an emergency message through text, email, even Twitter or Facebook including your GPS coordinates. And the "SafeCaster" app can live stream and record video in an emergency.
"No one's going to be able to use this app to prevent crime from occurring. What the app will do is it will foster an environment of safety on our campus so that people are reporting things to us and engaging the police department," said Saccenti.
Safety experts point out these apps are not meant to replace 911, but they can be another layer of protection.
"The 911 system doesn't traditionally have the ability to track a student and know their exact location and continue that tracking once the call is ended or once the call is made," said Saccenti.
As for Wakely, she said if nothing else it's great for peace of mind.
"I feel safer walking alone."
You don't have to be in college to take advantage of these apps. Many are free for anyone to download and use. Others charge a small fee or offer a monthly subscription service for premium features.
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