Dixie State University is providing access to friend walks, safety escorts, counseling services and more through an app designed by campus security and AppArmor.
The DSU Safe app, released in November 2020, is designed to promote campus safety by giving its users streamlined access to security resources and information, and the development process took less than a year to complete. The decision to use an app was inspired by the desire to improve access to DSU’s security services.
Josh Thayn, executive director of event services and risk management, said, “[The DSU Safe app is] a collaborative effort between DSU’s Risk Management and Public Safety departments to find a progressive way to elevate general campus safety.”
Thayn said the app provides more services than DSU’s previous emergency alert system for the same amount of money.
“Our contract with our previous emergency alert provider had expired, and we wanted to provide a better security resource and service to our DSU community,” DSU Police Chief Blair Barfuss said. “We simply got a better product with better service for the same price.”
Aside from access to DSU’s COVID-19 response plan and emergency contacts, the app’s features include:
- Friend Walk, which enables users to send their location to a friend and be tracked until they reach their destination.
- Report a Tip, which features four ways to report safety concerns directly to campus security.
- Safety Toolbox, a feature that primarily enables users to alert others of their status in an emergency situation.
- Campus Maps, which helps users to navigate their way around campus and provides an evacuation map.
- Emergency Procedure Plans, a feature that informs users of emergency preparedness procedures even when they don’t have access to the internet.
- Resources, which includes access to everything from the lost and found to safety escorts and counseling services.
“This tool is an innovative way to get safety and emergency resources into the palms of our Trailblazer community,” Thayn said. “It also allows us to add dynamic features and customize them to fit the growing needs of the university.”
DSU students seem to feel the same. Rebecca Goates, a senior integrated studies major from Encinitas, California, said the DSU Safe app’s variety of features drew her interest, especially the tip reporting, campus map and friend walk.
“I thought the idea of having to download an app sounded like too much effort, but eventually my curiosity led me to anyway,” Goates said. “This app actually makes things regarding safety easier for me. … While I wasn’t initially enthused, I do think it could be a really useful tool if downloaded.”
Barfuss said campus security is always looking for ways to better serve its campus community and enhance safety and security.
“The great thing about the DSU Safe app is that we can build additional services and options into it as needed,” Barfuss said. “As we continue to grow and develop as a campus and with security personnel, we plan on providing additional security resources similar to larger institutions that are utilized and available through DSU Safe.”