Sudbury·Audio

Laurentian University introduces new app to enhance safety on campus

They say there is safety in numbers — but there are far fewer people on Laurentian University's campus now than before COVID-19. Now a new app aims to help fill in that security gap.

Users can alert campus security directly through the app

Sudbury's Laurentian University campus safety team says it's developed an app that sends users important safety alerts and provides instant access to campus safety resources. (Screencapture/apps.apple.com)

Laurentian University in Sudbury has a new app with features to keep people on campus safe.

The app had been in development prior to the pandemic and is just now being launched, says Gail Cowper-Benoit, the school's manager of health and safety

One feature on the app ties into the university's blue-light system, which has stations at points across the campus. When someone feels unsafe, they can push a blue light button to alert security.

"We have approximately 10 on campus and they're not in sight of each other," Cowper-Benoit says.

"We surveyed students, that was one of the questions they asked was if it would be possible to add more of these blue lights."

Now people using the app can use it to tap a blue light wherever they are if they feel unsafe.

Cowper-Benoit estimates there are about 500 hundred people on campus, compared to 6,000 prior to the pandemic. She says campus security staff has not been reduced — there are three security guards at Laurentian most of the time. And they've added 200 security cameras to monitor the campus.

With fewer people on campus, more are working alone. And one of the app's features is designed with that in mind. Users can request a periodic check-in. If the user doesn't respond, the app will alert campus security.

When called, Cowper-Benoit says security generally responds within four minutes. Security officers are in one location on the city's south-end campus, but have a vehicle.

Other features of the new security app include:

  • Emergency Contacts: Contact the correct services for the Laurentian University area in case of an emergency or a non-emergency concern
  • Friend Walk: Users can send their location to a friend through email or SMS on their device. Once the friend accepts the Friend Walk request, the user picks their destination and their friend tracks their location in real time; they can keep an eye on them to make sure they make it safely to their destination.
  • Emergency Plans: Campus emergency documentation that can prepare users for disasters or emergencies. This can be accessed even when users aren't connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
  • Virtual WalkHome: Allow Campus Security to monitor a user's walk. If a user feels unsafe when walking on campus, they can request a Virtual WalkHome and a dispatcher on the other end will monitor their journey until they reach their destination.
Laurentian University is hoping to make its campus safer with the introduction of a new app. We reached the manager of health and safety at Laurentian, Gail Cowper-Benoit, to find out how the app works. 6:46

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