USD will be offering a free safety app to students through AppArmor, which is expected to roll out before Dakota Days.
A committee was formed to explore options for a safety app after it was recommended at a Student Government Association safety walk last spring.
John Howe, the associate dean of student services, said IT, UPD, marketing, student services and students are working with AppArmor to integrate the app at USD.
SGA vice president Madison Green said the app will allow students to choose emergency contacts from family members, friends, UPD and VPD. The emergency contacts can act as a virtual escort, who can watch the users’ path from point A to point B on their own device.
Green said the program will still work even in areas with spotty service.
“Even if you don’t have service, you are still going to be able to contact people, so if you were in a dangerous situation or felt uncomfortable but were in a place that doesn’t have service, like the basement of the library, you could still dispatch any of your emergency contacts,” she said. “It doesn’t run solely off of wifi, which is nice.”
Molly Gordon, a sophomore nursing major, said she has felt uncomfortable walking around campus at night.
“It’s super creepy late at night on side streets, because there isn’t any lights,” she said. “(It is) especially from the frats to the dorms, since it’s a long walk in the dark.”
When the app is implemented, Gordon said she would utilize the service.
“An app would be super awesome, and I think a ton of people would utilize it walking home from parties or even the library late at night,” she said.
While the app will contribute to improved campus safety, Howe said it needs to be a community effort.
“The app is merely a tool,” he said. “A fitness app does not make you healthy; your actions do. This is much the same. For this safety app to work, we need students and members to be engaged in maintaining and encouraging a safe campus environment.”
The University will be paying $8,000 to implement and maintain the app.
“Funding is coming from the Division of Student Services budget,” Howe said.
Sergeant Dean Tompkins-Searcy said anyone will be able to download the app. He said the app will be available from the Apple App Store as well as the Google Play Store.
Green said in addition to the safety components, the app also comes with tutorials and modules on life skills, like changing a tire or how to drive in certain severe weather conditions.
The committee implementing the app said the main focus of the process has been student comfort and safety.
“It’s about us making sure none of our students are scared to walk home from the library late at night,” Green said. “It’s us ensuring that we’re willing to pull out all the stops to ensure our student’s safety.”
Will Summers contributed to this story.