Brandon University Launches Campus Safety App

BSAFE screenshot. (Ariele Kehler/The Quill)

Brandon University rolled out BSAFE, a mobile application for iOS and Android devices meant to enhance the safety of members of the university community both on and off campus, last week.

Gordon Neal, director of BU’s Physical Plant, said on the app in a press release, “It is our responsibility to maintain a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff, as well as to have resources in place that provide for their health and well-being. BSAFE gives us the opportunity to have all those resources accessible in one place.”

Features of the app currently include notifications of on-campus emergencies such as severe weather warnings and power outages, the ability to easily and quickly contact campus staff for help in an emergency, access to safety resources, and the “Friend Walk” feature, which lets users have their friends monitor their location in real time.

Neal said on the app’s set of features, “We all want to feel safe while at work or at school, and features like Friend Walk provide app users with the peace of mind that their friends are watching out for them.”

The application has already been promoted to new students as part of the university’s orientation, while existing students, faculty and staff are expected to hear about it over the coming weeks.

Google Play currently estimates that the Android version of the app has been installed anywhere from 50 to 100 times.

The app is developed by Toronto-based AppArmor, a developer of “custom mobile safety apps and custom corporate crisis response apps for institutions in the US, Canada and Australia,” according to their website.

Safety apps developed by AppArmor are also in use at such institutions as York University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

BU is also considering additional features for the app, “from information about food services to bus routes and parking restrictions,” according to Neal, who claimed, “the possibilities are nearly endless.”

Neal concluded on the app, “We want everyone on campus to download BSAFE and to use it daily. The more people that are using the app on a regular basis, the more effective it will be in an emergency.”

According to Google Play, the Android version of the app requires a multitude of permissions from users, including those for finding accounts and contacts on users’ devices, getting the device’s location, taking pictures and videos, and reading, modifying or deleting the contents of USB storage.

However, AppArmor claims “no AppArmor custom mobile safety app stores personal data of any kind,” in a lengthy privacy section on their website, which details what the requested permissions of their custom safety applications are used for.