By Robin Peterson
The Virginia Wesleyan campus community is beginning to recognize some downfalls with the LiveSafe security app. Students said the app is buggy and not an effective early warning system for on-campus emergencies.
LiveSafe is an optional campus-wide app that allows the VWC community to quickly share safety concerns with campus security by submitting texts, pictures, video and audio. The app was introduced in 2013 in response to a need for students to be able to interact with security on campus.
“We had e2Campus since 2007,” Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Moore said. “Students were looking for a better system and some had better value than others, [such as] being more user friendly,” Moore said.
The college chose to switch to an automated alert system in the wake of the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007. The college first opted to use the system, e2Campus, which offered an SMS based system for alerts. However, this ended up being a limitation of the service because the system only allowed for one-way communication. After considering various companies that offered similar products, the college eventually chose to to switch to LiveSafe.
“Three years ago, the consortium of schools that Wesleyan is a part of was looking at LiveSafe and they agreed to partially fund [the company],” Moore said.
LiveSafe was chosen by VWC administration over many other apps that other colleges adopted. William and Mary uses the app Rave Garden for campus emergencies. This app has an added feature which allows students on the campus to be able to check in with friends and family.
Currently, Virginia Wesleyan is not the only campus which uses LiveSafe. Virginia Tech utilizes the app as well.
The app is intended to offer students a means of reporting fishy incidents or on-campus crimes. Security officers are then able to see the reports in real time. LiveSafe reports also deliver to the inboxes of several administrative staff on campus including Moore.
However, students are raising concerns that the app may not be as useful as perceived. One of the main concerns about the app students brought forth is the timeliness of the alert.
“There was a shooting down the road [on Baker] and the entire area was closed off. I heard about [the incident] on the news and got the LiveSafe notification an hour later,” sophomore Chase Curling said.
Moore said the app only alerts if incidents could affect people on campus. “An alert only goes out if it directly impacts campus. I remember the incident that [the student] was referring to. I was on campus that day and talked to the police. It didn’t impact the campus,” Moore said.
Students also said the app does not alert of weather-related warnings quickly enough. Recently the school was forced to open at noon due to unsafe road conditions. The school issued a warning that morning classes were canceled. Some students reported they either did not receive the notification from LiveSafe or the notification came long after students received the notification email from the school.
Some students said they found the app did not work when they downloaded it on their device.
“I downloaded the app and it didn’t work so I deleted it,” senior Matt Biondo said. These technical issues are causing some students to forego using the app.
Moore said the app is still very popular among other students. “Students use the app all the time. In fact just this morning, I got a report of a noise complaint [from one of the resident villages,]” Moore said.
One other additional concern students on campus have about the app is the fact that the app requires users to use their location; however this feature was added in order to help students track their friends’ journeys home from different places on campus. The LiveSafe website said the location feature was added to promote a new app program entitled Safe Walk, with which students can follow the progress of select friends and family. This is a concern to students because of fears that the app can be used to track activity outside the campus.
Moore said the college has a great relationship with the developers of the app and they work to constantly update and improve the app as needed. “Yes, we speak with them all the time, we have a great relationship,” Moore said.