News

Campus Safety App Promotes Safety, Raises Concerns

Campus Safety has announced_x000D_
plans to introduce the LiveSafe mobile application_x000D_
to campus as early as April 2015. The application, which has already been in use at colleges like Arizona State_x000D_
University and the University of Cincinnati, would allow students to_x000D_
communicate information via text message to Campus Safety.

Bob Robinson, Assistant Vice_x000D_
President of Facilities and Campus Services, said that the application’s_x000D_
primary purpose is to enhance the 5C community’s sense of security.

“Its original purpose was_x000D_
strictly for emergency preparedness and raising people’s sense of safety,”_x000D_
Robinson said.

One purpose of the app’s_x000D_
location-sharing feature is to provide reassurance to students who feel uncomfortable walking_x000D_
alone at night. In a feature similar to Apple’s “Find My Friends” application,_x000D_
uneasy students can alert either Campus Safety or a personalized group of_x000D_
friends of their exact location.

“If you’re coming back from_x000D_
Pitzer at two in the morning, you can have your friends track you and they can_x000D_
watch where you’re going,” Robinson said. “They’ll know if you run into_x000D_
trouble.”

Users of the application would also be able to send images or videos to back_x000D_
up their reports of misconduct. Unless a LiveSafe user requests anonymity when_x000D_
making a report or changes the application’s default settings, his or_x000D_
her location will be constantly available to Campus Safety.

“This isn’t a Big Brother_x000D_
thing,” said Pomona College Vice President and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum. “I want students_x000D_
to understand that [an application with the ability to text Campus Safety] is_x000D_
being responsive to what they were asking for.”

Although Robinson said that_x000D_
Campus Safety had “no intention of using [the location-tracking feature] as any_x000D_
kind of investigative tool,” he left open the possibility that Campus Safety_x000D_
might use the feature to determine which students were near the location of an_x000D_
incident or crime.

Austin Blatt PO ’18, a member_x000D_
of the application’s implementation committee, addressed concerns that the_x000D_
application would enable Campus Safety to track students’ locations.

“Students aren’t that_x000D_
interesting, and they have no reason to [track students],” Blatt said. “The app_x000D_
only sends your location when you, say, send a picture, so that Campus Safety_x000D_
knows when to respond.”

A handout about LiveSafe entitled_x000D_
“Frequently Asked Questions,” which was distributed at the Jan. 23 Senate meeting, states_x000D_
that students are “encouraged to provide picture, audio, or video evidence”_x000D_
when reporting misconduct.

South_x000D_
Campus Representative Aldair Arriola PO ’17 expressed concern that the_x000D_
photo-and-video-sending capabilities of the application, coupled with the_x000D_
feature that allows users to submit reports anonymously, could encourage racial_x000D_
profiling.

“The question is, are people_x000D_
willing to give up … their sovereignty to ensure the safety of_x000D_
others?” Arriola said. “Because of the_x000D_
demographics of our campus and because of society as a whole, some people might_x000D_
be targeted more than others. That worries me.”

Both Robinson and Feldblum_x000D_
maintained that the LiveSafe application would not encourage racial profiling.

“The good thing about it is,_x000D_
it’s all voluntary,” Robinson said. “If you don’t want it, don’t download it.”

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A demo version of LiveSafe is_x000D_
currently available for download on the iTunes Store and Google Play.

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