The Boston College Office of Public Safety launched the new BC Safe App, available on the App Store and Google Play Store, in November. Through its numerous features, the app is meant not only for Boston College students, but for faculty, staff, visitors, and nearby residents.
One security feature of the app is Friend Walk. This facet allows users to select a contact from their phone, either through a text message or email, and request that that friend or family member keep an eye on them for the amount of time it takes to walk across campus. The live location of the user is streamed to the contact until the final destination is reached. In a crisis, the user can simply click an emergency button to alert both the contact and the Boston College Police Department.
BC Safe was in the works for a year and a half and is meant to replace the Crisis Manager app that BC had been using for the previous five years, according to John Tommaney, director of Emergency Management. The objective in creating a new platform was to create an everyday app, rather than a simple reference.
“The goal behind this app is to make it a tool that people can use every day. … the Crisis Manager app was a good tool, but it was really only designed as a kind of electronic desk reference,” said Tommaney.
The layout of the app consists of a crime alert bulletin and nine tabs designed to promote both on- and off-campus safety as well as connect users to third-party resources, such as National Weather Service forecasts, Waze maps, and MBTA information.
“The idea was to try and make things a lot easier,” said Tommaney. “A lot of the things on the app are just links to websites, but people generally don’t know where to find them, so we’ve tried to create shortcuts and quick links for people to have access to the common tools they’re looking for.”
The links on the app take users across multiple BC website pages that outline restrictions, help with parking, and notify students of opportunities and information they may not have been aware of. Pages for different training programs BC offers, such as CPR training and Resisting Aggression with Defense (RAD) for both men and women, are linked on the app. Like the TransLoc Rider app, BC Safe also gives students real-time locations and approximate arrival times of BC buses.
While the app is geared toward everyday life, its safety features take up a significant portion of its layout. The app connects users to multiple BC hotlines, online forms to report suspicious activity, and instructions for potential major crises.
The travel safety tab is entirely dedicated to helping students in any situation or issue that can arise during time abroad. It provides students with BC travel contacts, international emergency numbers, and U.S. embassy information. It also gives students the opportunity to partake in BC Safe Check-In, a program that will notify them of emergency situations and ask them to check in to ensure their safety. Though it includes significant travel safety information, Tommaney hopes to develop the tab further.
“This particular section was really built for study-abroad students who are traveling to different areas,” said Tommaney. “We’re still working on this particular one, but it can be a really helpful thing when you’re traveling.”
The app’s flexibility has left an open window for any changes or improvements to be made, according to Tommaney. It has already been updated around 25 times, and the Office of Public Safety is looking to continue developing the app as users’ needs change and the office develops ideas.
Featured Image by BC Safe