Two years after its introduction to West Virginia University, the LiveSafe app has been helping students and the University Police Department maintain safety on and off campus.
The app is currently used by 5,000 WVU students, according to LiveSafe co-founder Shy Pahlevani.
“There have been hundreds of preventative incident tips reported, and a couple thousand use cases of our most popular feature SafeWalk, which notifies contacts of departure time and location, destination location and arrival time, (and) allows chat as well,” Pahlevani said. “Roommates and friends can essentially follow you on your walk.”
Pahlevani, who was held at gunpoint in Washington D.C., founded LiveSafe with Kristina Anderson, a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
“We were really focused on what we could build that was about prevention,” Pahlevani said. “What could we do to help solicit and crowdsource intelligence that could prevent an incident and directly connect people to the help they need.”
Pahlevani said the app is currently being used at more than 100 universities in 30 states, as well as Fortune 500 companies and healthcare facilities.
After signing up with their phone number or email address, name and password, users can anonymously report crimes, share their location and contact university police from within the app.
“We get a lot of loud noise complaints coming through,” said University police chief Bob Roberts. “We just ran a safety audit (in late 2015) where we got a number of things like lights were out, people who saw cracks in sidewalks and things like that. We’ll also get calls on people smelling marijuana.”
The app has helped the University Police prevent several fights and domestic disputes, Roberts said.
LiveSafe features a safety map that shows users different areas around campus, such as school buildings and police and fire departments.
However, the map’s “Safety Places” feature currently only shows fire departments, health centers and gas stations. While users could get help at these places, “safe places” such as police stations, the Mountainlair and Evansdale Crossing are not listed.
Soon, the map will also feature an archive of past incident reports.
After Roberts saw a presentation on the app in fall 2013, he and the University’s Student Government Association named LiveSafe the official safety app of WVU in May 2014, according to a previous Daily Athenaeum article.
“This app will allow the campus community to be active participants in reducing crime and identifying safety hazards,” Roberts said to The DA for an earlier story. “It is a tool that will provide a feeling of safety with the electronic escort feature, as well.”
Roberts said the app was procured after a review and bidding process.
The app also allows WVU to send out warnings and information, contacting students in a way similar to the University’s email and text services.
While LiveSafe has helped prevent or delay quite a few crimes and incidents, Roberts has even higher hopes for the school’s safety with the app’s future use.
“It helps us build relationships as well as get us information so we can be proactive,” Robert said.