Safety can be a concern for Ohio State students, especially when they live on or near campus. However, it is difficult to know when and where every crime occurs in the campus area.
A new service, called Aware OSU, was created by Cailin Pitt to alert users daily with any crime committed on or around the campus area.
Currently, Aware OSU alerts students by email to crimes near campus, but Pitt said he plans to begin transitioning it into a mobile app during winter break.
“It’s a script that runs every morning at 10:15 a.m.,” said Pitt, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering. “It first visits the Columbus (Division of Police’s) web portal and then it goes to the OSU Police Department’s website. Then it puts all of their information into an email and sends it out to people.”
Pitt, a resident adviser in Jones Tower, came up with the idea while talking to another RA about a mugging that happened to one of their residents and was not reported to students.
“We were talking about how it sucks that you don’t find out about things like that,” Pitt said. “We wish we knew that things like this were happening off campus because a lot of our friends live there.”
During fall break, Pitt decided he would create Aware OSU and share it with friends and other students to cover crimes not included in OSU safety emails.
“I posted about it on the (OSU) free and for sale page on Facebook, and 100 people signed up that weekend,” Pitt said. “There were about 150 people signed up over the first couple weeks.”
Pitt’s site got a lot of attention on Oct. 27 when the university became aware of an anonymous online threat to harm students and teachers.
On that day, Pitt said he posted about Aware OSU on Reddit, a social platform where anyone can make anonymous posts in online communities called “subreddits.”
“About 300 people signed up that day. So it’s at about 450 people using the service as of now,” Pitt said.
Taylor Humphrey, a fourth-year in strategic communications, said that she considered signing up for Aware OSU after the threat happened.
“It was hard to trust any source that was talking about the threat because I didn’t know most of them,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey added that Aware OSU seems like it picks up where the OSU safety alerts might be lacking.
“This tool sends out all the information on every crime in our area that happened the previous day,” Pitt said. “It reports them regardless if there was a continuing safety impact or not.”
Pitt also said that the feedback he has received is positive and “people really seem to like it.”
“A lot of people have told me that they’re really happy with everything and that it’s really cool and needed,” Pitt said. “I haven’t seen a negative response yet.”
The overall purpose of the site is to keep people fully aware and give them enough information to make decisions about where unsafe locations are around the campus area, Pitt said.
“The information I’m pulling for this is available online but it can be hard to find,” Pitt said. “People don’t know where to look so I made it easier for them to be aware of what’s going on.”