University to launch app to improve on-campus security

The app is called SafeZone and will be available later this week

The University of York will activate a new app to enhance security services on campus for students and staff on Wednesday.

Image: Kent Chen

Image: Kent Chen

The free app, which is called SafeZone, will be able to summon urgent help if a student or staff member feels threatened, or in the event of assault or robbery.

SafeZone offers three simple touch-screen options. The ‘Help’ option connects the user to speak to the Campus Services Helpdesk for general assistance, while the First Aid and Emergency options send for medical help and Campus Security to the user’s exact location.

If one of these is selected when the student or staff member is located outside of the SafeZone area, which Heslington West, Heslington East, the King’s Manor and the University Boathouse, the app will offer a single-tap call to 999.

Security can also send advice and instructions to staff and students through notification messages on the app if there is an incident on campus.

The University has worked with Australian company CriticalArc, the developers of SafeZone, to introduce the system in York. It is already in use at a handful of universities, including the University of South Australia and Queensland University of Technology.

Denis Fowler, the University’s Director of Health and Safety said: “Our campus is already very safe but this app gives students and staff extra reassurance that assistance is no more than the touch of a button away.

“The app allows us to monitor the positions of security personnel and first aiders so we can deploy them swiftly and efficiently to provide assistance and support where necessary. Previously, in the event of an emergency many students automatically called 999 but SafeZone provides a more targeted method of summoning assistance on campus.”

On Thursday, the University will send e-mails with directions on how to download SafeZone, and there will be information sessions about the app from 10am-12pm in the University Library, 1-2.30pm in the Information Centre South, and 2.30-4.30pm in the Ron Cooke Hub.