On Sept. 1, the University of Texas Police Department (UTPD) launched LiveSafe at UT Austin. The free mobile app gives the UT community the ability to engage with UTPD 911 dispatch more effectively and allows UTPD to serve its public care-taking role no matter where students and employees are working and attending classes this fall.
Although calling 911 is always the best option, UTPD recognized communication habits and behaviors had changed. They noticed a reluctance to dial 911. In addition, social media had become the outlet for posting photos and videos of potential incidents. Upon learning of campus-based reporting applications, Assistant Vice President for Campus Security and Chief of Police David Carter pursued the technology to provide the community with the tool necessary to meet the changing culture.
“The police must evolve with the community they serve,” Carter said. “This is especially true when it comes to effective communication channels that are so necessary to build trusting partnerships. The safest community is one where the police and community act together to keep all parts of our community safe.”
LiveSafe at UT Austin allows users to instantly text urgent matters to UTPD. The Report Suspicious Activity button enables users to also send photos and videos as they exchange messages with dispatch. Such information takes an officer from using a description to locate a suspicious bag, to seeing what the actual bag looks like and going immediately to it. Carter believes the reporting function offers great opportunity, especially for faculty and staff who are some of the best eyes and ears of the police department.
“Faculty and staff know best what is out of place,” Carter said. “They are vital in adding to the community security equation. They have on numerous occasions quickly brought dangerous situations to our attention whereby an individual was threatening harm or about to commit a crime. LiveSafe at UT Austin further empowers faculty and staff to build a more secure and safe campus community.
LiveSafe at UT Austin’s functionality goes well beyond the campus perimeter. A Virtual Walk feature allows users to share their location with a person on their contact list when walking or riding in a vehicle. Should users access the Call 911 button, they will be routed to their local 911 or emergency service equivalent when traveling abroad. This fall, Texas Global will begin testing check-ins on a separate portal of the app with students and researchers while in foreign destinations. Should they need to, Texas Global will be able to send critical safety messages to those students and researchers.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the app is its global reach via the call 911 button and our ability to send targeted messages in an international area experiencing danger,” said Carter.
Safety on a global scale is Carter’s highest priority. Now that we are in a pandemic and the majority of our population is off main campus, that capability matters more than ever. Download the app today. If you have any difficulty downloading the app, contact LiveSafe at firstname.lastname@example.org.