LiveSafe, a free safety app that allows students, faculty, staff and campus visitors to send texts, photos and videos of concern directly to the UT Police Department, launched Tuesday and currently has over 500 downloads.
“We're trying to enhance communication between the UT community and the UT Police Department,” said Peter Scheets, assistant chief of police and chief of operations. “There is a reluctance to call 911 for minor emergencies or minor incidents, and we felt that the community would be more likely to use a phone app to communicate security concerns with us.”
Before LiveSafe launched, UTPD could not accept photos or videos from the community, UTPD spokesperson Noelle Newton said. Now, multimedia can be shared with UTPD's 911 communication center, and officers can respond within minutes if on campus, Scheets said.
“When we were kids, I was told you don't call 911 unless the bone is sticking out through the skin or the blood is squirting out everywhere,” Scheets said. “That's not the case now. Our philosophy is call when you feel unsafe, or if you don't want to talk, text us that you feel unsafe, and we will still send someone out there to make sure you're OK.”
The app can be used on or off campus 24/7 to communicate with UTPD, Newton said. Students must log in with a Duo account and their University EID to access the app, Newton said. According to the app, students can also submit reports anonymously on anything from cyberbullying to street harassment.
LiveSafe also allows students to virtually track friends while they walk to any location. After a destination is set, the app determines how long it would take the walker to arrive. If they don’t arrive on time, the app automatically checks in with them with an option to call 911.
COVID-19 related concerns should not be submitted through LiveSafe, Scheets said. Instead, students and faculty can go through the Behavior Concerns and COVID-19 Advice Line.
Phone numbers and contacts for many University services, including the advice line, UT Night Rides, and Sure Walk, can be found in the app's resources section.
Scheets said he hopes opening up this new outlet for communication will build a stronger sense of trust between UTPD and the UT community.
“The bottom line in any relationship is communication,” Scheets said. “When the community is willing to share information with us, then we become more effective in responding to their needs and concerns because they're sharing information. And then the safety of the whole community will be increased because the police are listening and they're responsive.”