WASHINGTON (WJLA) – An Arlington-based company is trying to help prevent assaults on campus by putting technology into students’ hands to help them reach out in crisis.
The app is already being used at several Virginia universities, as well as at Georgetown University.
Dispatchers field plenty of 911 calls at Georgetown. Now, they’re also hearing from students who can communicate without saying a word.
“We’re getting tips that we normally wouldn’t have gotten,” said GU Police Chief Jay Gruber.
The tips come in to Chief Gruber and others through a new security app called LiveSafe, which allows students to text in concerns when there’s no emergency, or ask for help when there is.
“We just want the information, and by having this platform available, we’re getting good information,” Chief Gruber said.
LiveSafe has already led to arrests, including in an indecent exposure case, when the victim used the app to get police there on the sly, before the suspect could get away.
“If they’re in a situation where they’re uncomfortable making a phone call, students text all the time, so it doesn’t look any different to the person near them that the student is texting,” Chief Gruber said.
The app designers, including a Virginia Tech shooting survivor, made it possible for students to send those texts with video and pictures to show dispatch exactly what’s happening.
“The minute it goes in, it instantly shows up on the dashboard side, and then there’s a two-way chat back and forth,” said LiveSafe CEO Jenny Abramson.
The chats help resolve crimes, but LiveSafe is designed to help police and students prevent them.
The app also lets students rely on each other. Say they’re walking by themselves late at night; the app connects them so they never have to walk alone. It’s a feature that has already been used hundreds of times on campus since August.
Georgetown freshman Jackie Landry has it at the ready.
“Fortunately, I haven’t needed to use it, but I guess if I obviously needed to use it, it would be at my fingertips,” she said.
LiveSafe is protection stored in a pocket that hopes to prevent assaults on campus.