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University of Arkansas encourages SafeZone app

The SafeZone Mobile Safety App allows people on campus to alert UAPD in the click of a button.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — At the University of Arkansas, it’s almost time for final exams. That means students will be on-campus studying late into the night. The walk back to their car or the bus stop can seem a little scary sometimes.

The SafeZone Mobile App uses smartphone technology to connect people at the University of Arkansas Police Department in just seconds.

“It can be used as a panic button, and it will contact UAPD. With your permission they will know who you are, and will know where you are, making our response time quicker than two minutes around the campus,” said UAPD Corporal Allen Porter.

Porter says SafeZone is only accessible to people with a university email address. Once someone launches the app, they see an option for first aid, and another to call UAPD and emergency services. All icons will call UAPD dispatch and notify officers on the street. Senior Katie Beth Haidet says she is often on campus after dark and finds comfort in knowing UAPD will respond quickly through the app.

“Our parking garages are super far from each building, so when you walk alone late at night by yourself it is very dangerous, so having the app is super beneficial to all the students, especially females walking alone on campus,” said Haidet.

This week, the university added an option for well-being assistance.

When clicked, it calls the Pat Walker Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

“Instead of those in crisis, being able to reach out through a third party, they can reach out to our mental or mental health or counseling department directly through the wellness, well-being app. There 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Porter.

The app also allows you to do check-ins, so UAPD knows where you are in case of an emergency. This feature is something you can turn on and off yourself and once it’s off UAPD can’t see where you are. There is also a function that allows users to activate the check-in timer for any amount of time. Once the timer goes off an alarm will sound if you don’t turn it off before.

“You have to initiate it while you're on campus inside the zone. If you are checked in and you go outside the campus zone, then they'll automatically check you out. But the check-in timer is much different. It's a little bit safer,” he said.

The university began using the app three years ago but is still working to educate the campus in order to get more people to use it. Porter says he has gotten positive feedback from faculty and students including one who used it during an emergency while hiking outside of Northwest Arkansas.

“We were able to see that app, the emergency part, the emergency alert, we contacted the local law enforcement in that area and reached and did a rescue mission and found that individual safe,” he said.

Members of the campus community can download the Safe Zone Mobile Safety App for free.

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