ODU launches mobile app to help decrease crime

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Another Hampton Roads university with a history of violent crimes in nearby neighborhoods is beefing up campus security.

Old Dominion University launched a mobile app called LiveSafe on Friday. The goal is to decrease crime in the area by making communication about what’s going on in and around campus as easy as the touch of a button. The app allows students and the community around the university to report crimes instantaneously and anonymously.

“This is about enhancing campus safety,” ODU Chief of Police Rhonda Harris said. “Every year we make an assessment about what we can do to enhance safety. It gives us an ability to leverage technology in a way we don’t have now.”

Not only can students report tips, but they can also receive safety alerts. Within the app, a “Safewalk” function allows users to share their locations with friends and chat with them on the way to their destination. It also includes a 911 button to immediately talk to police.

“It’s nice to have something that I can report suspicious activity or anything like that where I feel threatened,” ODU Junior Sara Duncan-Patchin said.

But the LiveSafe app is only part of a broad safety initiative at ODU. In the addition, the University said it’s made more security upgrades, in wake of a series of violent crimes near campus.

So far this year, the college has installed more than 1,000 security cameras at various locations, including residence halls and parking garages. The campus police along with Norfolk police have also increased patrols.

“I do feel safe. I always feel like there’s campus police around all the time,” Duncan-Patchin said.

The LiveSafe app, which was developed by a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, is now used in more than 25 schools across the United States. The app is available for free to download on the iPhone and Android.

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