Public Safety launches new app


Martha Tomesen

Wherever you are, Public Safety is with you through their new on-campus safety app.
The creative process of over a year consisted of discussions between Public Safety and Augustana administration, along with contributions made made by the Student Government Association.
The app can serve students as a portable emergency tool, increasing student safety and security and was built to meet the specific needs of Augustana’s campus. The safety app is free to download for IOS and Android users and students do need data for the app to work.
The app has several handy features, including GPS tracking, the ability to file reports of harassment and sexual assault and to schedule counseling service. Students will also be able to get in live contact with dispatchers to let them know exactly where they are on campus. Public Safety Chief Tom Phillis said, “This app will help students by giving them access to important information on their phones and the ability to press a button and call 911 wherever they are.
“We are trying to use technology and communications methods our students are more comfortable and familiar with. Although it is new and we are still learning how to apply the app, we are excited as it will be an asset to our campus safety program for years to come,’’ Phillis said.
The Public Safety officer who mainly participated in the creation of the safety app is Mark Beckwith, Deputy Chief of Police. “Exploring this app,” Beckwith said, “we found it would be very applicable to the services that we provide our students and gives us a better extension to our students to be able to communicate with us. We are trying to make it very user-friendly to our students as a result of meeting with our students and hearing their input.’’
Students who are already utilizing the app have positive responses: “I’ve actually already downloaded the app,” said sophomore Celina Rippel, who is a CA in Westerlin Residence Hall. “Public Safety came to talk to the CAs about the app before it launched so that we would be able to answer questions our residents may have when it launched. As a CA, my main priority is student’s safety, so seeing measures like this app put in place feels very reassuring. ’’
The new app does not mean that students who face trouble on campus cannot contact Public Safety in the usual way. “We strongly encourage students to download it, but this is not to replace simply calling us,” said Beckwith. “It is a lot quicker to use our phone-number, as opposed to the app.
“A lot of our students now have smartphones, and the app includes a lot of different information regarding things for their benefit here on campus. In doing that, it also provides a tool in which students can notify us via text message,” Beckwith said.