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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Launches LiveSafe Mobile App as Part of Broad Safety Initiative

Old Dominion University launched a mobile app today that broadens the ability of students, faculty and staff to contact police, or receive information from law enforcement, in the event of an emergency on or near campus.

The LiveSafe app, which was developed by a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, is available for free download on iPhone and Android-based devices through iTunes or Google Play. It allows users to report tips or incidents to police anonymously, receive safety alerts from authorities and view interactive digital maps of the ODU campus and surrounding neighborhoods. A SafeWalk function allows users to share their location with friends and chat in text with them as they make their way to a destination and includes a panic button for immediate communication with police if a threat is encountered.

Adoption of the LiveSafe app is part of a broader educational campaign at ODU that seeks to promote a culture of safety and responsible citizenship. The initiative also involves significant investments in enhancements intended to promote a safe environment for students who live on campus or in nearby neighborhoods, as well as faculty, staff and administrators.

"Providing for the safety of our campus community is a critical mission at ODU and the LiveSafe app is a dynamic tool that will help significantly in that regard," said ODU Police Chief Rhonda Harris. "In addition to our established email and text-based alert systems, students, faculty and staff, as well as parents and residents of the neighborhoods surrounding ODU, now have an additional way to receive critical information with the added ability to report incidents anonymously and attach photos or video that can aid officers in the event of an emergency."

Benefits of the LiveSafe app include:

  • Encourages information dissemination that could help deter or prevent crimes from happening through proactive sharing of tips, with an option to include photos and video.
  • A multi-layered communication platform keeps everyone better informed through text messages, push notifications, emails, safety map messages and other dynamic content.
  • Real time identification and GPS tracking of a person in distress gets law enforcement officials all the relevant information they need to make better decisions and accelerate emergency response times.
  • For law enforcement agencies, LiveSafe increases the effectiveness of responses and focuses time on high value activities so that officers are able to accomplish more with fewer resources.
  • GPS enabled mapping allows the user to quickly identify the most efficient routes to hospitals, police departments, campus blue lights and public buildings.

While many of the LiveSafe app's functions require GPS location services, including active tracking of the device by police in the case of an emergency call, all activities are initiated and terminated solely at the user's discretion.

To learn more about the mobile app's features, visit the LiveSafe website.

The long-term development of a wide-ranging safety program drawn from the University's Master Plan culminates today with the launch of ODU's LiveSafe app. Through a slate of state-of-the-art technology and homegrown initiatives, ODU is adding multiple layers of protection to its existing safety plan that will further provide for the well-being of students, faculty and staff as well as the other valued members of our campus community.

So far this year, Old Dominion's safety enhancements have included:

  • Installation of more than 1,060 state-of-the-art safety cameras at various locations including residence halls, parking lots and other public spaces.
  • Free home safety evaluations provided by ODU Police to students who live off-campus. Those who need window/door locks and alarms for off-campus residences can get them free of charge from the university.
  • Off-campus fire safety programs
  • Installation of safety screens on all first floor windows of campus residential buildings
  • During the fall semester, installation of lighting and changes to landscaping are taking place to enhance security.
  • Increased patrols by Norfolk Police, including in residential and commercial areas near the ODU campus, particularly on weekends.
  • At crosswalks on campus, safety beacons have been installed to better promote awareness of pedestrians in addition to speed limit readouts on 43rd Street that are proven to slow traffic.
  • Expanded operational hours for SafeRide, an existing service offering free evening transportation on and near campus. Students may also now request the SafeRide service via the ODU mobile app.

"Never before in our 85-year history have we begun a school year with so many assets in place to bolster our students' success and quality of life while simultaneously providing a cache of essential tools and enforcement strategies to keep them safe," said ODU President John R. Broderick. "Old Dominion takes its safety precautions seriously and I commend our staff for their achievement in advancing these efforts over the summer."

To learn more about the many safety-enhancing initiatives that are active on campus, or for tips and other recommendations for living, studying and working at ODU, visit the university's new Living Safely website.