LiveSafe, “born from a spirit of triumph over tragedy,” allows for full customization to suit the needs of various colleges, businesses, and non-profits nationwide. Here’s how Arizona State University is using the advanced mobile application to help protect students, teachers, and faculty on all four major ASU campuses.
After the devastating shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, survivor Kristina Anderson and past assault survivor Shy Pahlevani banded together to make public and private campuses – for businesses, colleges, universities, and non-profit organizations – safer. The duo rallied an executive team of like-minded individuals and gathered an advisory board (consisting of Chelsea Clinton, Mark Sullivan of the United States Secret Service, Jan Fedarcyk of the New York FBI Directory, and many others) before launching LiveSafe, a mobile application built to crowdsource actionable safety and security intelligence. The app, the team hoped, would help to prevent mortifying incidents like the VT shooting before they occurred.
Since LiveSafe’s launch in 2013, several partners including the Hearst Corporation, Cox Enterprises, USC, and more have developed and customized the app to suit their needs and help protect their internal communities. ASU is just one of many.
Covering over a thousand acres of land, ASU’s four major campuses are in need of a program that can protect all of its students, whether they’re walking to class, biking to the dorms, or skateboarding to the library for a late-night study session. Luckily, LiveSafe offers full customization for each of its partners, allowing universities like ASU to provide maximum safety and care to their students.
ASU’s version of LiveSafe exists within the single LiveSafe app; students download the app onto their mobile phones, then select their community to view the university’s special dashboard. Once they’ve verified their email address or phone number, students (as well as teachers and faculty) can take advantage of a variety of features, including SafeWalk™, in-app city and campus police calls, tip reporting, and more.
Students can quickly and easily submit tips to campus and city police by tapping “Report Tips,” then choosing a non-emergency tip category and typing into the app all the information they have. With their written tip, students can include photos, videos, and audio clips that support what they’ve seen or heard, then choose whether to remain anonymous before sending in the tip. If campus or city police determine they need more information in order to respond or investigate the incident, they’ll contact the student using the information on their profile (so long as they didn’t choose to be anonymous).
LiveSafe’s SafeWalk™ offers students a chance to walk or bike from two different locations on campus with the virtual protection of a trusted contact, even from miles away. Once they leave a building, the LiveSafe user starts SafeWalk™, invites another user from their contact list to monitor their movement on a map, and begins walking. The two users are able to chat with each other in-app while the walking user’s location is updated in real-time on the map. Should the walking user stop moving for any reason or message the monitoring user about trouble, the monitoring user can call 9-1-1 and share the walking user’s location with emergency personnel. If the walking user gets to his or her destination safely, the two users can simply click out of SafeWalk™ and continue normal smartphone use.
LiveSafe users can also reach their community’s counseling services by checking the “Confidential Counseling Services” tab in the app’s side menu. ASU’s version of LiveSafe provides students, teachers, and faculty with daytime ASU counseling services phone numbers, an after-hours crisis counseling hotline by EMPACT, and the RAINN national 24-hour sexual assault hotline. Campus and city police can release safety broadcasts to LiveSafe users through notifications on students’ smartphones, which alert students to scenarios like suspicious packages, flooding, stalled vehicles, and more. Users can also review emergency procedures for use in worst-case scenarios, such as active shootings, over-the-phone bomb threats, fires, and the location of hazardous materials. ASU’s LiveSafe provides students with the individual locations of emergency callboxes on campus, as well as the phone number to ASU’s nighttime safety escort service.
LiveSafe’s Success at ASU
On November 2nd of 2015, a user on the online forum 4chan posted a threat to the entirety of ASU’s Tempe campus, uploading a photo of one of ASU’s welcome signs and mentioning that he would be there at 12:30 the next day to place “filthy degenerate normies” under his gun sights. Students at ASU used the LiveSafe app to send screenshots of the message to local authorities, who immediately began investigating the threat and eventually determined it wasn’t credible (other universities had received the same threat, and the original poster’s IP address was from Canada). Even though the threat wasn’t inherently substantial, campus police were able to issue broadcasts about the event to LiveSafe users and gather information from students who possessed extra insights or concerns.
The Phoenix Police Department responded to a tip from a LiveSafe user on December 8th, 2015, who found a suspicious package in the Metro Light Rail station at Central Ave and Van Buren, just steps away from ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. LiveSafe users were instructed to avoid the area while police investigated the package and checked surveillance tapes. When the situation was cleared, a similar broadcast was sent out to LiveSafe users, allowing them to return to normal activities and routes.
Though a majority of ASU’s LiveSafe broadcasts are centered around shuttle location updates, blocked-off streets, and power outages, the mere presence of LiveSafe on many students’ phones makes the four campuses feel safer and more like a collective, tightly-bound community. Combined with the successes of LiveSafe at schools like Georgetown University, University of Baltimore, and Washington College, it’s clear that LiveSafe is an integral part of campus safety.