Evaluating campus safety apps and the vendors providing them can be a challenging and confusing task without the proper guidance. In this guide, we’ll go over some of the essential categories that are necessary for understanding and properly evaluating safety app implementation. Whether you’re a safety app pro or just getting started with this topic, this guide will provide you with some valuable information.
Throughout my 30+ years in law enforcement, I’ve had the privilege and honor of working alongside so many selfless people who work behind the scenes to improve their communities. When I first got involved with technologies for campus safety, the possibilities were endless. Could we replace, or at worst, supplement existing blue light towers? Could we streamline ‘See Something, Say Something’ workflows so that powerful information is delivered directly from the community to the right people? These ambitions were exciting to consider, but only with the help of campus first responders was I able to focus these ideas to build a useful solution.
It’s because of these members of the campus law enforcement community, and the kindness they showed me, that I’ve written this guide. It’s my hope that you can find this guide useful and, wherever you end up, feel positively about the process and outcome of your campus safety app evaluation.
Evaluating safety apps
The bulk of criteria you should be conscious of when evaluating campus safety app vendors can be lumped into three categories:
▶ Feature set
▶ Marketing & awareness plans
The best campus safety applications are ones that encompass many of your existing safety programs into the technology. The mobile application should act as a ‘one stop’ for your campus communities safety needs. The following features should be part of any offering you’re considering:
The vast majority of campus safety applications feature a panic / duress button. This feature is an important and useful tool that is being used throughout the nation to supplement (even replace) stationary blue light towers. Generally, the panic button feature will contact public safety and / or local authorities when activated. Most mobile app panic buttons will also send a location to responders.
Submit a tip
Tip submission features are popular within robust campus safety apps. This feature provides a platform for your campus community to quickly and discreetly send information to campus security and other departments. The submit a tip feature is being used nationwide to supplement ‘See Something, Say Something’ efforts.
The safety resources feature is core to any campus safety app aiming to be a complete solution. Having this feature is a great way to ensure your community has access to important safety literature when they need it most. Recently, we’ve found that the safety resources tool is being utilized instead of the emergency procedures ‘flipbook’. Effectively, it’s a way to save your campus money and provide a better tool for your community.
The safety map feature allows security forces to drop pins that represent important places onto a blank map. For example, security often uses this feature to display the location of weather shelters, defibrillators, police stations and local hospitals.
A safety timer feature is included in most of the widely used campus safety apps. This feature goes by different names; friend watch, safe walk, etc. This feature allows app users to designate emergency contacts and notify them when the app user is performing an activity alone (an activity that warrants monitoring their safety). Most safety timer implementations will send location information to emergency contacts so they can monitor the app user’s position.
To read the rest of The Ultimate Guide to Campus Safety Apps, click here. The complete guide includes pro tips for each feature, what to look for with app customization, and best practices for marketing your safety app.