USG, Department of Public Safety, Student Life launch free safety application

Photo Illustration by Muyao Shen | Asst. Photo Editor

Photo Illustration by Muyao Shen | Asst. Photo Editor

The Undergraduate Student Government, in partnership with the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Student Life, is announcing the launch of a new safety application on Tuesday.  Students can expect an email around noon with details.

“The Undergraduate Student Government continues to focus on student safety both on and off campus,” reads the USG email. “For this reason, we are excited to announce the launch of the LifeLine Response Enterprise App, a safety app for smartphones available free of charge to Buckeye students.”

Abby Grossman, a fourth-year in math education and president of USG, said that USG’s student activity fee paid for the purchase of the app for the next year for OSU students.

The app can be used in two modes. The first is a “Timer Mode,” which is hands-free. It is activated when the user starts a timer and after the allotted time has passed, they must enter a code to disarm the emergency service. The second mode is a “Thumb Mode,” which requires the user’s thumb to remain on the user’s phone screen. If the code is not entered, upon time expiration or after the user’s thumb is removed, the user’s location will be shared via GPS, and the nearest police department will be notified of the emergency.

The founder and CEO of LifeLine, Peter Cahill, spoke with The Lantern about the genesis of the application and why it is so important. Cahill said the idea came to him after a family member was raped and his niece and her friend were almost abducted in a separate incident in 2012.

“The best place to use it is when somebody doesn’t feel safe,” he said. “We have a call center, so if you don’t disarm (the app), our call center tries to reach you, but simultaneously we also alert friends and family, and these are called ‘Lifelines.’ We connect them to your location and to 911 as well.”  

There are several other features within the app, such as Real-time Suspicious Activity Tracking and Reporting, which allows users who see suspicious activity in the community to anonymously send a report to the LifeLine system, as well as in-app notification services that allow notifications to be sent out campus-wide, according to the website.

According to both Cahill and the LifeLine website, this app has prevented 25 assaults and eight medical emergencies so far in the eight months it has been available.

“About two years ago, LifeLine Response Enterprises did a trial run at Ohio State, which was very successful,” Grossman said. “So there was a lot of research making sure this was the application (USG) wanted to go with, and it has been a tremendous partnership so far.”

Grossman said after the trial run, 97 percent of students who participated said they would recommend it to a friend, and 98 percent said they felt safer using the app.

Acting Police Chief Craig Stone affirmed the choice in LifeLine and explained how it will impact students on and off campus.

“There are over 200 blue light phones on campus, and a few off campus, but with this safety app, not only can students use it on campus, you can use it off campus, almost anywhere with the GPS feature,” Stone said.

Stone added that the partnership did not happen overnight.

“USG has been working on this for quite some time. They evaluated a lot of products, and once the right product was identified, a lot of internal entities got involved to make sure we were getting the best product we could get,” he said.

Both Stone and USG acknowledged the importance of every student’s awareness and dedication to safety.

“While the app has many benefits, it cannot replace your own instincts,” USG wrote in its email. “So please continue to look out for yourself and one another, be aware of your surroundings.”