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Smartphones Find Use as Campus Safety Tool

Although 98 percent of students say they feel somewhat or very safe on campus during the day and 81 percent report they feel the same at night, six in 10 students say they would use an app for personal safety. Just a tiny number of them currently use a safety app — about 2.5 percent. The count varies considerably depending on whether the respondent is male or female. Among women, 66 percent say they'd try an app for personal safety; among men, it's only 44 percent. Eleven times more women than men report already using such an app.

Those numbers come out of a survey sponsored by Bandwidth, which sells IP network services, and BlueLight, which has Google Android and Apple iOS apps that can be used to connect users to public safety. When somebody presses the "request help" button on the BlueLight app, the subscription service identifies the caller's location and routes the call to the nearest emergency responder, which may be campus police or the community 911 dispatch.

The two companies surveyed 1,002 people — most of them college students — regarding their sense of personal safety while on campus.

Students already take simple precautions on campus. Among women, 70 percent said they have informed a friend or family member about their planned whereabouts or travel times, 61 percent said they have called as they've walked home or to their cars alone, 52 percent reported having sent a text before heading out on a run or road trip and 81 percent said they have sent a text when they've arrived safely. Among men, the counts are lower across the board. For example, only 45 percent said they have informed somebody about their planned whereabouts and only 52 percent told researchers they have sent a text when they've arrived at their intended destination.

"Every student should feel safe on a college campus, 100 percent of the time," said BlueLight CEO Preet Anand, in a prepared statement. "While 80 percent of students is a good start, there should be no student that feels threatened as part of receiving an education."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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