Safety app to help protect community college students in Los Angeles

safety first—Screenshots from the app Bruins Safe show the main page, which has different features to choose from, and the emergency plans page which gives students information for differenct situations. CN/ Steven Adamo

By Luis Castilla

The Los Angeles Community College District is in the process of purchasing a custom safety app that would protect students in an emergency or natural disaster.

William Ramirez, LACCD safety and emergency services manager, has been working on obtaining the app for six months and hopes to introduce it to all nine colleges in the district by the 2019 fall semester.

“My goal for the app is to bring another tool to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said the app would be named after the college and the word “safe.” For example, East Los Angeles College’s app would be “ELAC Safe.”

Ramirez said the app would protect students in catastrophic events like earthquakes or school shootings as well as crimes like theft or sexual assault.

One of the features Ramirez is most proud of is the Mobile BlueLight which allows users to share their live location with campus police.

This feature aims to protect students who take night classes and would dispatch an officer if they see that the user has stopped behind a building or anywhere suspicious, an indicator that the user might be in trouble.

Virtual Walkhome is similar to Mobile BlueLight, but will monitor users who walk home. Students will be able to share their location with campus police or a friend.

Bianca Ortega, an ELAC student, said she would use the app. “As a female student who occasionally takes night classes, I would feel more safe with the app,” Ortega said.

Students would also be able to report tips to law enforcement anonymously, and might receive pay for doing so. “If it doesn’t look right to you, it’s probably not right,” Ramirez said.

All nine LACCD colleges will have the same app, but each college will have the ability to customize it based on their needs.

The app will also have standard features that will be available to all colleges like emergency plans, emergency calls to campus police, emergency contacts, maps of the college, virtual walk, anonymous tips, Mobile BlueLight, Virtual Walkhome and requesting an escort.

Emergency plans could be updated in case of any changes and will be available offline.

The app will also have customizable push notifications that would immediately alert all users, in the event of an emergency, of anything from where to meet to when a shooter has been apprehended.

Ramirez said the app will be free and will work on all operating systems as well as older phones. “I want everyone to be able to use it,” Ramirez said.

The app will be designed on the AppArmor platform which has made custom safety apps for hundreds of clients worldwide, including the University of California, Los Angeles.

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