On Sept. 11, Sacred Heart University released an app called SHU Safe, designed to increase the security of its students both on and off campus by making safety resources more accessible to students.

SHU Safe’s emergency call feature allows users to press a button and instantly access services such as campus security, the fire and police departments and emergency medical services. If the user is connected to campus Wi-Fi, the app automatically directs the call to campus security, according to a SHU press release.

Once a call has been made, campus security has the ability to pinpoint exactly where the student is within a building, ideally reducing response times in emergency situations.

At this time, however, Fairfield doesn’t provide a similar app.

According to Dean of Students Karen Donoghue ‘03, Fairfield beta tested a system similar to this on campus last year, yet found the location detection wasn’t accurate on Android devices.

“It was giving a false report of where you are, so it was being counterproductive to the whole point of the app,” said Donoghue.

Donoghue mentioned that the app is still a possibility for Fairfield in the future, but not now.

“Until some of these kinks are worked out, we do not believe it is a safe, reliable option for our students. The last thing you want to do is give them a tool that doesn’t work,” said Donoghue.

According to SHU’s Executive Director of Public Safety Paul Healy, there are currently over 833 students using SHU Safe.

When asked about the student reaction, Healy stated it was “very positive to date” and added that a local news station visited SHU for a demonstration of the app in action.

Healy also noted the convenience that using an app gives students.

SHU Safe also includes iReport, which allows users to file reports of vandalism, assault or crime within the app. While reporting, users can choose to self-identify or to remain anonymous.

Lastly, SHU Safe offers students the ability to check-in with someone on their contact list to let them know their expected arrival time. If the student doesn’t deactivate the feature by the specified time, the contact will receive a notification text.

“The Public Safety & Information Technology Departments are constantly looking for ways to utilize the ‘communication methods’ most prevalently used by students in order to increase our ability to offer services that are fast, reliable and easy to use,” said Healy.

As for safety on Fairfield’s campus, Donoghue and the Department of Public Safety explained that they are constantly looking for ways to increase and improve campus security.

According to Donoghue, students have reported areas where they feel unsafe on campus.

“In the areas that we’ve identified [as potentially unsafe], we have purchased cameras to go up in that area as well as we’ve brought in companies for the light fixtures,” said Donoghue.

Donoghue other circumstances besides lighting that worry students, such as keeping campus bushes low to prevent people from being able to hide in them. In addition to safety precautions taken by Fairfield, Donoghue said that students need to be aware of their surroundings.

“I’m not sure [if an app] is going to help students think that way,” said Donoghue.

Donoghue discussed easy precautions that students should take, such as paying attention to their surroundings, traveling in groups and locking their doors.

“I could probably walk up to the townhouses right now and get in some doors,” said Donoghue.

When asked if the anonymous reporting function from the SHU Safe app would help increase the reporting of assault and violence, Donoghue was unsure, but cited fairfield.edu/confidentialreport as an already-existing resource for students to report information anonymously at Fairfield.

When The Mirror asked students in an anonymous online-survey whether they would use a comparable app if offered at Fairfield, some thought it wouldn’t be a necessary addition.

Citing privacy concerns, one student stated they would not use the app if it was made available, stating that it “sounds like a lot of locational info [information] will be transmitted.”

Another student, however, stated: “It is important especially in the wake of the recent sexual assaults that extra security measures be taken and this app sounds like one way to do it.”

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