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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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New St. Joe’s safety app launches

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Within each of the 12 buttons, more features are available to users. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s Public Safety launched a new app, “SJU Safe,” which makes public safety features accessible to students from their cell phones.

The app was launched at the end of August and has over 1200 downloads as of Sept. 5, according to Art Grover, director of Public Safety & Security.

Grover said what initially drew him to the app is being able to reach students wherever they are.

“It allows them to use technology and devices that are familiar to them in ways that allow them to communicate,” Grover said.

When a user opens the app, they are shown 12 buttons including “Emergency Contacts,” a “Mobile BlueLight,” “Friend Walk,” “Virtual Walkhome,” “Support Re- sources,” “Emergency Plans,” and many other options.

Grover said that one of the most popular features on the app is the Virtual Walkhome.

“A student can connect with my dispatcher and arrange for a virtual walk home,” Grover said. “[Students] type in what their destination is and we’ll watch them proceed on the screen. When they get to the location they hit finish and they’re done.”

Anna Kalafatis ’22 lives in Pennbrook Hall on 63rd Street and uses the Friend Walk feature when she is walking to and from campus anytime after 3 p.m.

“I like how you can send your location to somebody and they can track where you are,” Kalafatis said. “There’s a lot of robberies and weird situations that go on since we are in a city.”

Another feature allows users to send a tip to the Public Safety office either in the app, over the phone or by text. There is also a button to access school emergency plans, which include the active shooter plan, terrorist attack plan, severe weather plan and others.

Grover’s favorite feature on the app is the Mobile BlueLight. Anyone with the app can press the BlueLight which shares their location with Public Safety within the geofence of 63rd Street to Monument Street and four blocks east to west.

“With this app, I have 1200 more BlueLight phones out there, and people can get help, support and assistance when they need it,” Grover said.

Whitney Jones ’20, former public safety chair of University Student Senate (USS), was part of the initial discussion about the creation of the app during her sophomore year. Jones continued working with Grover and David Hudak ’21, the new public safety chair for USS, to find the best app for St. Joe’s campus.

“Especially after last year’s incidents, I feel this app is exactly what this campus needs,” Jones said. “It also connects Public Safety more to the students and there is less of this disconnect and miscommunication.”

Hudak said the Mobile BlueLight feature on the app is especially important since students don’t always know how the Blue Lights work.

“I think the [Mobile BlueLight] is a great feature,” Hudak said. “Everyone has their phone on them. It’s always about preventing the worst from happening.”

Grover said downloading the app is simple and only takes a minute.

“I would like [students] to download it and use it, leverage it to its fullest capacity because it really is an important safety initiative,” Grover said. “ It has a potential to change the way people interact with Public Safety, and we welcome it.”

Zach Dobinson ’22 contributed to this article.

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