Virtual safety at fingertips

by | Nov 14, 2018 | Uncategorized

By: Eryn Pinksen

While the Safe Walk program is not new to post-secondary campuses, NAIT launched the first campus Virtual Safe Walk in Edmonton.This provides students with an easily accessible digital safety feature for peace-of-mind security.

Living close to campus has its perks, however, as a young woman I often feel nervous walking home late at night. I have wanted to use Safe Walk multiple times, but I usually felt that because I lived so close I didn’t want to inconvenience someone to accompany me for such a short distance.

For my own wellness, I have come to realize that prioritizing safety is never an inconvenience.

I spoke with Darrin Kirk, operations officer at NAIT’s Department of Protective Services, who informed me of the many ways that NAIT is also prioritizing safety.

What intrigued me most was that this Virtual Safe Walk connects students directly to the Department of Protective Services and is available on the NAIT Alert app 24-7.

Virtual Safe Walk allows students to mark their current location and share it with the Department of Protective Services office as they walk. The user sets the time they expect to reach their destination then location services on smartphones update the office about the user’s movements that they monitor on their end. When the user arrives at their destination safely, they simply end the trip so the office is notified and the location is no longer shared.

“We have been trying to encourage people to download the app because there are a lot of good things about it that are useful, not only for your own personal interest, but for your safety,” said Kirk.

This same safety procedure is available with another feature called Friend Walk. Within the NAIT Alert app, a user can share their location and use the check-in feature with a friend rather than the Protective Services Office, if they prefer.

I gave the Virtual Safe Walk program a try and unfortunately there are a few bugs. The app took a while to connect to my location, then when I started walking it disconnected when I locked my phone. Once I repeated the process of setting a time and destination, I left my phone unlocked in my pocket and it remained connected as walked home.

Despite the minor issues, I appreciate that NAIT is working to stay ahead of the times in security technologies.

Other NAIT Alert safety features include: connecting app users to emergency contacts like Protective Services and the Edmonton Police Service, a list of emergency procedures for on-campus security and a mobile BlueLight help-phone for an immediate line.

According to Kirk, when campus is busiest there are approximately 12,000 to 15,000 students walking around. To further prioritize immediate safety, there are over 600 high-quality cameras in the major public areas to monitor any immediate security concerns.

Currently, the app only has 4470 users out of over 30 thousand staff and students. You can download the NAIT Alert app on any smartphone app store.

Photo Source: NAIT Emergency Updates and Resources

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