UVic’s new SafetyApp is simple but smart

Culture Technology
Graphic by Cam Welch

The university recently announced the launch of the UVic SafetyApp, a new mobile resource for students. This app was developed by Campus Security, and has been added to the UVic Alerts system. It provides students with contact information for coping with a wide range of emergency situations such as alerts regarding the day-to-day operation of the university. But how easy is the app to use? What are its features? Is it free? To answer these questions and more, here’s our review on the university’s latest attempt to streamline services.

The basics

As you may know, UVic uses an alert system to inform students about emergency situations or school closures. While this system isn’t used often, it is handy that students and staff are able to receive an email or text alert when a situation does arise— like when campus was closed last spring due to an anomalous snowstorm. Students and staff are required to sign up for this system when they create their UVic account, but the university wanted to develop a new tool that would combine these alerts with essential resources such as contact information for campus security and the Victoria Police Department. 

To this end, they announced the launch of the UVic SafetyApp on August 23rd for both IOS and Android. The app is available on both the App Store and the Google Play Store, and is free to download for anyone. 

Features

The app itself is relatively simple in design, which makes it easy to use, yet also leaves it slightly lacking in features. The interface is divided into nine sections: Campus Alone, Emergencies, SafeWalk, First Aid, Support Resources, Residence Services, Campus Map, Emergency Procedures, and Campus Security. Each of these sections lead users to the appropriate resources, contacts, or procedures depending on the situational need. The format of this differs, however, as clicking on the First Aid, Residence Services, and Campus Security tabs lead to direct lines for those services. The support resources and emergencies tabs provide a list of support lines like 9-1-1, BC Poison Control, the Sexualized Violence Resource Office, and the Vancouver Island Crisis Line. 

Most of the app is directed towards showing students and staff what to do, and who to call,in emergency situations such as an earthquake, flood, or medical emergency. However, the app also provides a map of campus to help those who are lost and/or new to campus, as well as a direct link to the UVic website. The notification network is also routed through the UVic Alerts system in order to provide students with on-the-spot updates or emergency information. The university has also stated that this is only the first iteration of the SafetyApp, and that they plan to update and improve it as time goes on. 

Verdict

Overall, the UVic SafetyApp is a practical and easy to use app which successfully combines the UVicAlerts system with essential resources and contact information. Its simple design is a refreshing change of pace from the convoluted UVic website, while its layout provides students and staff with a one-stop-shop for important updates and emergency information. The SafetyApp is ideally used in conjunction with the UVic Mobile App, as together they allow users to access key information such as timetables, and emergency procedures without going through the process of navigating the main UVic website. As this is the first iteration of the app, its developers will hope to expand and improve the services that the app provides. Hopefully, this will be carried out in a manner that doesn’t detract from the key strengths of the app — namely its simplicity and accessibility. The main drawback of the app, besides the lack of features, is that the built-in alert system will come across as redundant to some users due to the fact that most students and staff already receive any updates through text or email. Despite this, the UVic SafetyApp is highly recommended for students and staff as it provides a free and accessible service for those looking for UVic safety procedures or emergency resources. 

Rating: 4/5