New app aims to improve campus safety

University launches TRU Safe app with "Friend Walk" feature and emergency contacts

Called TRU Safe, the university’s new safety app gives users safety information and contact numbers at the tap of a menu screen. (Martin McFarlane/The Omega)

Called TRU Safe, the university’s new safety app gives users safety information and contact numbers at the tap of a menu screen. (Martin McFarlane/The Omega)

Used to walking home alone at night? You might never have to again with TRU’s new safety app for smartphones.

Called TRU Safe, the app developed with the Office of Safety and Emergency Management aims to give students and employees quick access to safety and emergency information.

One of the app’s key features is the “Friend Walk,” a service that allows a user to send their location to a friend and have them follow their movements to their destination. In an emergency, the walker can press a panic button, which will notify the friend and also start an emergency call.

TRU Safe also includes quick access to phone numbers for first aid, security and emergency services. For suspicious activity, users can email in a tip, attaching photos or videos.

The app is also connected to TRU Alerts and users are able to get up-to-date information on incidents on campus.

Available for iOS and Android, the app was developed on mobile safety platform AppArmor, and apps similar to TRU Safe are in use on campuses in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.

According to Safety and Emergency Management Manager Stacey Jyrkkanen, work on the app started in mid-June after hearing about the success of similar safety apps at other universities.

screenshot_20160914-090341She said that the app is an additional resource for the TRU community to access safety information and for the office to communicate with students and staff.

“From the whole emergency management perspective, you want to make available multiple layers of information on several different platforms, because not everyone is going to be looking for information in the same places,” Jyrkkanen said.

The Office of Safety and Emergency Management officially launched the app at the Back-to-School BBQ. According to the office, the feedback from students and employees has been “very positive.”

The new app has been supported by the Student Services office and TRUSU executives. Sierra Rae, women’s representative at TRUSU, thinks that the app is a further step to establishing a safer campus.

“I can see this app being a key component in creating a safe learning environment for students,” Rae said, adding that she has heard stories of students and employees feeling unsafe on campus.
“I think it is a good addition to campus, and will help make students feel safer, such as when they walk to their car at night.”

As of the morning of Sept. 13, the app has been downloaded 482 times. Jyrkkanen says that the office is working with the orientation team to make sure students are aware of the app and to encourage adoption.

“These things take time, it will always be a continuous push,” Jyrkkanen said.

TRU Safe is the second official TRU app available on the app store, with the other being for the bookstore’s sell-back program.