The University of Waterloo has released a new app called WatSAFE intended to boost campus safety. The app, available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, was launched Sept. 28. </p>
Features in the app include a button to call 911, UW Police, and non-emergency numbers for UW police and the Waterloo Regional Police. It also contains a safety toolbox that has a flashlight and an alarm feature. You can also email your location from the app and report suspicious activity.
The university has several ways to communicate with students, like text and social media. This app provides them with one more tool to reach students.
The university is eager to see students embrace the app as part of their campus safety strategy. For the university, one of the most attractive features is the ability to push notifications to users.
Nick Manning, director of media relations and issues management, discussed how the university plans to use the app to communicate with students.
“There are lots of ways that people consume and get information, and with WatSAFE it really gives us the ability to quickly, in the event of an emergency, reach a number of people directly with notifications on the phone,” said Manning.
“In the event of an emergency, we would use a number of different channels to communicate but today everybody carries a smartphone [and] the ability to get safety information into their hands. For example, in the event of a tornado warning here on campus, the ability to push notifications to people’s smartphone was really attractive to this app,” said Manning. “That is the key benefit — that ability in an emergency to push information to people.”
A personal safety guide is also included with safety tips for various situations, including walking, transportation, and elevators. There are also links to resources on the university website.
“What is nice about it is that it also gives us the ability to keep our community updated with safety messages and ways in which they can access services which will help keep them safe on campus,” said Manning.