New smartphone app puts safety tools in users’ hands

The new NIU Safe app will allow members of the campus community to take personal safety into their own hands, literally.

The app is now available for download in the Apple Store and Google Play. See go.niu.edu/niusafe for more details about the app.

The app is a version of AppArmor, which is used on large university campuses across the country, from the University of Florida to UCLA. Earlier this year it was rated the top personal safety smartphone app by Campus Security & Life Safety magazine.

Customized specifically to the needs of NIU, the app will provide instant access to campus safety resources and adds yet another layer of security for the campus community. “We always talk about campus safety as a partnership between police and those we serve,” said NIU Chief of Police Tom Phillips. “NIU Safe will dramatically enhance that collaboration with a suite of tools that make that much, much easier.”

NIU Safe app menuAmong the available features are:

  • An Emergency Contacts button that allows users to dial the police dispatcher at the touch of a single button.
  • Friend Walk, which allows users to send their location in real-time to a friend who can follow the progress of their walk to ensure that they arrive safely at their destination. Users can also opt to have NIU police notified if the user does not reach their destination (within the surrounding area of the DeKalb main campus).
  • A Mobile Blue Light button that behaves like a mobile campus Emergency Call Box, allowing users to have police dispatched to their location at the touch of a button.

Other features to be rolled out during the fall include the ability to report crime tips (anonymously if preferred) using voice, text, photos and video; and a safety toolbox that includes features like sharing a user’s location, quick access to flashlight mode on a phone, and the ability to send an “I’m OK” message to selected loved ones in case of an emergency.

NIU Safe also will have the ability to display campus maps showing the user’s location; access to instructions on what to do in various emergencies; the ability to contact Huskie Safe Walk; and a link to the Huskie Line bus tracker. It also will provide phone numbers for campus support services such as the Title IX office, campus mental health resources and a suicide hotline.

The app will even provide instant notification anytime the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning for the area around the university.

“It puts a very robust set of safety tools directly into the hands of anyone who downloads the app and makes it easier for them, and for police, to keep them safe,” said NIU Police Commander Don Rodman who has helped lead the efforts to secure and implement NIU Safe.

“NIU Safe is a user-friendly app that will allow our university community to streamline emergency communications by providing a single site to access safety and security information and applications,” said NIU President Lisa Freeman. “We hope that all of our students, faculty and staff will download it and learn to use its features. We want to be proactive about safety on our campus, as well as responsive to our community members’ concerns.”

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