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New mobile safety app connects users on campus with NUPD

09/20/16 - BOSTON, MA. - NUPD Launches SafeZone Mobile Safety App at Northeastern University on Sept. 20, 2016. Photo by: Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Through a mobile safety app called SafeZone, students, faculty, and staff can now connect directly with the Northeastern University Police Department to immediately report emergencies, request medical assistance, or simply stay in touch during late-hour work assignments.

With the touch of a button, users can instantly get in touch with NUPD to report the nature of the emergency and the location. From the main screen, users must only press one of three tabs—First Aid, Help, or Emergency. All the alerts go directly to NUPD, and dispatchers are immediately notified and shown the user’s location on a campus map. Also from the main screen, users can “check-in” at any time to share their locations with NUPD—if, say, they are on campus late at night or are working alone in a lab or office.

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The app is part of the university’s comprehensive efforts to maintain a resilient and safe campus environment for students, faculty, and staff. “We believe that SafeZone adds a layer connectivity between the NU community and the police department,” said Northeastern University Chief of Police Michael Davis. “With this application, people in need can connect directly with the closest available police resource.”

NUPD said that within the first four hours of launching the service on Tuesday, more than 500 people registered to use the app. During that time, NUPD was also alerted via SafeZone to a medical emergency near Snell Library, “allowing responders to quickly identify the situation and location,” said Todd Kaplan, Northeastern University emergency manager.

NUPD has launched a SafeZone website with more information, frequently asked questions, and a video explaining the app and how to use it.

In a message to the university community on Tuesday afternoon, NUPD underscored that users’ privacy is a priority and that SafeZone does not track a user’s location until an alert is sent. When the First Aid, Help, Emergency, or Check-in buttons are pressed, the app only shares the user’s location and contact information with on-duty NUPD personnel. Users can cancel an alert or check out at any time if they press the tab by accident or they no longer need assistance. NUPD also checks users out of the app once they leave campus.

If users are off campus, the app provides an easy one-touch button to dial local emergency services.

Through the app, users can also receive notifications and specific safety information based on where they are located within the city of Boston.

Northeastern is among the first U.S. colleges and universities to pilot use of the SafeZone app, which is available on both iOS and Android devices for download from the App Store or Google Play. The app will be deployed later this year for use at Northeastern’s regional campuses and at international locations.

Have questions about the use of the SafeZone app? Call 617.373.2121 or send an email to safezone@northeastern.edu.

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