App looks to keep UA members safeBy Ben Stansell | 08/31/2017 11:48pm
Created specifically for The University of Alabama, the UA Safety app contains vital information and tools that members of the University community, Tuscaloosa community and campus visitors can use to remain safe and well-informed during emergency situations.
The app boasts a wide array of practical features, according to SGA VP for external affairs Price McGiffert, who is working in conjuncture with several UA groups to spread the word about the app. Features include severe weather updates for Tuscaloosa County, campus emergency alerts and contact numbers for emergency services, as well as a built in GPS that will guide students to any building on campus.
In McGiffert’s opinion, the UA Safety app is a necessary download for all Alabama students.
“I just want everybody to have it downloaded on their phone because you never know when an emergency may happen on campus and you might need it,” McGiffert said.
The UA Safety App, which was launched at the end of last spring semester, was created after the Vice President’s Office for Financial Affairs reached out to the Office of Emergency Preparedness with the idea of establishing an app where members of The University of Alabama community can find crucial information in case of an emergency. The Office of Emergency Preparedness then collaborated with the Center for Advanced Public Safety, typically referred to as CAPS, to develop the app.
With so many features to perfect, the development of the UA Safey app was a lengthy process.
“It took over a year to develop,” said Dr. Donald Keith, the director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness. “We had a number of meetings with CAPS to lay out the concept and talk about what we envisioned in the app. Then they developed the app over time. It was a lot of back and forth between us and them [CAPS] to try to figure out what all we wanted to include and where we could get all of the information to pull together in the app.”
University of Alabama student Ryan Truitt played a crucial role in the development of the app. Truitt, a junior majoring in Management Information Systems, worked for CAPS to both develop the app and beta test the app once it was created.
In moments of emergency, time can be of the upmost importance, which is one reason why the app was developed to contain an easily accessible list of emergency phone numbers, from the Tuscaloosa Police Department to the poison control center.
“It provides immediate access to all of the emergency contact information, so that you don’t have to take the time to look up a telephone number of say UAPD or of the Counseling Center or the fire department,” stated Monica Watts, the Associate Vice President for Communications, who has worked diligently to spread the word about the app.
Since its release last spring, the UA Safety app has been marketed to incoming freshmen at Bama Bound orientation sessions, along with freshman girls at rush convocation. At the time of publication, the app has been downloaded approximately 4,425 times.
The UA Safety app can easily be found by typing in ‘UA Safety App’ in either the search bar of the App Store on Apple devices, or the search bar of the Google Play store on Android devices.