The University of South Dakota Is Keeping Students Safe The “Smart” Way



VERMILLION, SD-  Keeping track of 10,000 students can be a challenge, but technology is any university’s best friend in order to reach college students.

“Kids always have their phones on them. Like I’m always on my phone,” says Student Government Association Vice President Madison Greene.

In order to insure the safety of students at the University of South Dakota, the Safety Committee and school officials created the “U.S.D Safe” app through AppArmor.  This tool allows students to access different campus phone numbers and services in case of an emergency.  One feature that drew U.S.D Officials to this app was its’ geo-fencing capabilities.

“Let’s say we have a student that is going to study abroad in Dublin. Once they land, if their phone is active it will recognize that they’re in Dublin. If they hit any of the emergency buttons, it will call the Dublin Police Department,” says Associate Dean of Students Dr. John Howe.

Its’ features also include a “Mobile Blue-Light” and a “Virtual friend walk” where you can send a location to five friends of your choice.   This way in case of an emergency, students don’t have to search for a blue light phone.

Howe recalls, “When I was a college student, we have the blue light phones. That was a great place you could run to in case of a campus emergency. But truthfully, students are walking around with a mobile device everywhere they go. For all intensive purposes, this brings the blue light phone to their hands.”

The idea for the app came after the safety committee took a walk around campus to find any “weak spots” to access safety officials like in the library or in a basement.  With those locations in mind, AppArmor provides access to certain features on the app without Wi-Fi or cell service.

“Some students are on specific data plans where they run out of Wi-Fi their phone is useless (sort of speak). We don’t want a student to ever be in a situation where they can’t report a dangerous situation because they went over their data plan,” says Greene.

This app is meant as a promise to keep students safe.

Greene explains, “We really wanted to show our students that we are fully committed to their safety. A lot of students wanted to put more blue lights on campus, to do this and that, and put more more resources on campus so we can eliminate a problem before it even exists.”

The app will be Android and iPhone friendly.  U.S.D says it should be available in the next few weeks.

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