Local university develops safety app for students
Villanova University has developed a free app that will assist their students in staying safe while on campus, according to CBS Philly.
The app is called Nova Safe.
“The core functionality is the ability to press a button and be connected with Public Safety,” said Dave Tedjeske, director of Public Safety at Villanova.
Tedjeske said that the app gives emergency dispatchers a real-time GPS location of the user and other information they’ve they chosen to provide when they signed up for the app: photos, medical conditions, emergency contacts.
It also has a feature called "Friend Watch".
“They can use their emergency contacts to watch over them, so to speak,” Tedjeske said, “so if I’m going to the city and I want my friends to be able to keep an eye on me, it sends the 'friend watcher' a link to see where you actually are at that point.”
This feature raised more than a few eyebrows, reported the Villanovan, Villanova's student newspaper. Users can use “Friend Watch” for additional safety when walking through campus, going for a jog or returning to their vehicle at night, by sending their location to a friend. This emergency contact will receive a notification of the user’s location and can follow their movements until they reach the location.
The user has the option to set a timer for how long a contact will have access to his or her location. Using this feature of the app does not require the “watcher” to download the app, sending the information via text.
Despite the detailed explanation, the title of the feature has received some skepticism from students on Villanova’s campus.
“I want to stress that we’re not able to see anybody’s location unless they use the app to call us or notify us about something” Tedjeske said. Users have complete control over the sharing of their location with a friend or with Public Safety.
“We’ve been developing the app for about two years,” Tedjeske told the Villanovan. “There were several companies that offer an off-the-shelf version, but there were certain things that I was looking for that I couldn’t find in any off-the-shelf option.”
The university worked with 911 Cellular, a company based out of Cleveland, Ohio, to develop the app unique to it's needs.
Nova Safe also shows a crime map of on-campus incidents.
University officials plan to push the use of the app heavily around orientation in the fall, but Tejdeske said that they’ve already had more than 600 downloads.