App puts safety in student hands
Whether it’s walking to the car late at night or staying back at the office, we’ve all been nervous about our safety before. UOW aims to make its Wollongong campus a safer place this week when it begins the Pilot Program of SafeZone, a new operation which transforms smartphones into personal sensors that give security officers a complete view of the situation.
The technology is the flagship product of Critical Arc, a company supported by UOW’s iAccelerate initiatives, StartPad, UOW eClub and Pitching Plate. Critical Arc CEO Glenn Farrant said the App allows security officers to respond efficiently and effectively, and combats issues associated with misunderstood directions.
“SafeZone allows users to call for help from UOW Security within the identified zone. It includes a sensor that provides security officers with the user’s exact location. Users are also capable of reporting incidents without directly becoming involved,” he said.
Mr Farrant said CriticalArc had already conducted trials of SafeZone with UOW Security and that the operation will now be piloted on UOW’s Wollongong campus, where it will by monitored and responded to by University Security.
The free app will be available to all UOW staff and students who have a smartphone during spring session from July 30 to December 31.
UOW Vice-Principal (Administration) Chris Grange said, in particular, the app will provide coverage of the TAFE pathways frequently used by UOW students as well as local streets to the south as far as Murphys Avenue, south of the Botanical Garden.
“SafeZone will allow students and staff to send a location-based alert from their smartphones to campus security staff when under duress, needing first-aid or other assistance,” he said.
The application allows its user’s smartphone to function as a blue security phone like the ones found on campus so that the user can easily contact security using the three icons available on the app.
Users who find themselves outside the Wollongong Campus Safe Zone can still use the app to connect with ‘000’ for assistance from Police, Fire and Rescue and the Ambulance Service.
Users outside of the Wollongong Campus SafeZone can still use the application to connect with Triple Zero “000” for assistance from Police, Fire and Rescue, and the Ambulance Service.
UOW’s Security Manager David Anderson said he and his team are very excited about piloting SafeZone.
“The opportunity to turn staff and student’s smartphones into blue security phones and placing help at their fingertips is a very new concept which we are looking forward to exploring,” he said.
“We are keen to encourage as many people as we can to download the app and to give us their feedback. SafeZone will be particularly helpful for international students who are not familiar with ‘000’ as it will help them contact emergency services when they’re off campus as well as offering on-campus security.”
UOW Innovation and Commercial Research Director Elizabeth Eastland said the SafeZone pilot was a testament to the iAccelerate vision.
"Through CriticalArc’s engagement with iAccelerate programs StartPad, eClub and workshops, they have been provided with essential support needed for development,” she said.
“This is a real life example of how UOW and local businesses can engage with technology start-ups to make a significant difference to their success and speed to market.”
SafeZone will be available to UOW staff and students to pilot from July 30-December 31. The app is free and is available for iOS (iPhone) and Android. Visit the SafeZone website for links to app stores and more information.
The app will be promoted to students attending evening classes throughout the week. The SafeZone UOW information page has been set-up to provide further assistance.
Users are encouraged to provide feedback through the normal UOW Staff and Student feedback channels or directly to CriticalArc via Facebook.