Safety apps provide peace of mind to students

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Safety apps provide peace of mind to students

Lifeline mobile safety solution app in Google Play Store.

Lifeline mobile safety solution app in Google Play Store.

Yangwentao (Ryan) Fang

Lifeline mobile safety solution app in Google Play Store.

Yangwentao (Ryan) Fang

Yangwentao (Ryan) Fang

Lifeline mobile safety solution app in Google Play Store.

By Elyssa Kaufman, Staff Writer

For Kate Maurer, senior in Media, living in her sorority house meant a far walk back at night. In order to add comfort to her almost-off-campus walk home, Maurer downloaded LifeLine Response.

LifeLine Response is a safety app that connects directly to police stations and allows for direct communication in dangerous situations. It’s one of many mobile resources students can use when they are alone and don’t feel safe.

The app works when the user puts his or her thumb on a button while walking, and if they remove their finger for a certain period of time, the app sends a warning message asking if it was a mistake. There is also a timer option for longer distances. If the user does not click the message to report a mistake, the app will call 911 and track their location.

“I used it because I lived in a sorority house pretty much off campus and I didn’t feel safe walking there at night, alone, just because there wasn’t a lot of lights or anything,” Mauer said.

Maurer said she would frequently take a bus home from the library or bars. Not only was the bus a safe way to go home, Mauer also said she used the Uber app.

“I would consider the Uber app a way to keep yourself safe,” Maurer said.

Rachel Banoff, senior in Engineering and LAS, also said she felt relieved knowing an app on her phone could provide instant help.

“I have the app Companion and SafeWalks on my phone just in case of emergency purposes or if I feel threatened, but I have never had to use them,” Banoff said.

Banoff said Companion allows for friends phone numbers to be added to the app. When using the app, an individual can allow a friend to track their walk and function as an immediate phone connection.

“It makes it so you can contact them within seconds,” she said.

The app’s slogan is, “Never Walk Alone,” and for some students on campus this may be necessary.

Banoff said she downloaded it because it is always helpful to have something for the worst-case scenario.

“I’ll be walking back some place late at night, and it’s kind of sketchy in certain areas, so it made me feel comfortable having it on my phone,” she said.

After the shooting that occurred last week on Green and Fourth Streets, Illini Alerts became the main source of information between police and the campus community. Patrick Wade, Communication Specialist for the University Police, said a series of four alerts were sent out Sunday morning.

“Just about everyone on campus knew immediately about what happened,” Wade said.

He said the first alert was sent out 12 minutes after the incident occurred and the alert was sent to tens of thousands of people.

Wade explained the importance of checking up on friends when Illini Alerts are sent out.

“If you get an Illini Alert that something just happened and you think your friends might be in the area, absolutely text or call them if you are concerned to see how they are doing,” he said. “That way, if you don’t get a response then that’s your cue to call the police.”

Wade said he encourages more students to sign up for the alerts at emergency.illinois.edu.

The University police, Wade said, always tell students that if you see something suspicious, or if you think yourself or someone else is in danger, either leave or call the police because they are happy to help.

Wade said students should not walk alone at night, should stick to familiar well-lit places and can always call safe walks if they do not have someone to walk with.

“Everyone has that kind of sixth sense of, ‘this doesn’t feel right, or I think something is about to happen,’” Wade said. “When that alarm goes off in your own head, it’s usually because something weird is happening.”

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