University launches safety app


Katrina Alonso

On Sept. 5, the University announced several updates to security that have been made over the summer in an email from the office of University President Marvin Krislov to the entire University community. He announced the creation of a new student-led safety video, along with new training programs for emergency management and sexual harassment for staff and students, new security staff, and an “all-in-one” campus security smartphone app. The app, called PaceSafe, is available on all app stores.

The app’s interface includes a news feed from the Twitter account of the University’s security department (@PaceUSafety) in addition to access to various emergency procedure plans, support resources, and safety training programs. The interactive app, which was developed by AppArmor Mobile in tandem with Pace University Emergency Management and Security, will also allow students to contact campus security and 911 and file incident reports from one place.

pacesafe homescreen
The PaceSafe app home screen.

In addition to all of this, the app has a feature called Friend Walk, which will “send your location in real-time to a friend so they can watch you as you walk to your destination.” Using the GPS on your phone, the app tracks your movement and sends it to a contact that you choose, who can watch your progress on a map. If you’re in distress, you can easily hit a button to notify your contact and begin an emergency call. This feature could make it safer for students to travel alone and is similar in concept to popular apps like bSafe, Watch Over Me, and Circle of 6.

Though many students remain unaware that this app exists, those that do approve of its efficiency and usability. University senior Jessica Schultz said, “I actually like the app. It’s really user-friendly, has a nice interface, [and] a lot of info that students need is in there and super easy to find. This is much better than sifting through Pace’s website.”

Students also appreciate that the University is making strides to improve security, which is an effort that spurred from the active shooter scare that occurred on campus on Sept. 14, 2017. “It’s a good initiative,” said University junior Lara Machado, “because [now there’s] an easier way for students to reach out in case of emergencies. It’s a good idea and very convenient.”

University junior Nick Solomon said, “It feels a bit redundant to the already-existent alert system in place, but also, it’s good to put all the resources at students’ fingertips.” Solomon refers to the University’s emergency alert system, which notifies students, staff, and faculty via email and text about emergencies on campus. Previously, the system had operated on an opt-in basis, meaning students and faculty had to sign up through the Pace Portal to receive notifications. With the new initiatives came an update to the system, which has automatically enrolled all students, staff, and faculty for the receipt of emergency alerts and will continue to do so for incoming students.

Though these steps seem to satisfy some of students’ needs to feel safer on campus, the problem of communication persists. None of the students interviewed for this article were aware of the existence of the PaceSafe app before they were asked about it, though the announcement was sent to everyone at the University. Some believe the issue lies in the fact that this important information tends to get buried in long emails from the administration that students don’t have time to read.

University senior Izzy Filippini said, “I had absolutely no idea about half the changes they’ve made this year.” She suggests that the administration “make an easy-to-read announcement like ‘What’s New This Year’ with bullet points and hyperlinks to more info.”

With these updates to security, and more still to come as the year progresses and the first phase of the Master Plan inches to the finish line, the University stands to become a safer place to attend. The administration remains hopeful that these measures will be helpful to the community and welcomes feedback from students regarding the updates.

President Krislov said, “We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the safety of all members of our community, and we always welcome input on these matters.” He can be reached at [email protected].

Credit: Pace University