The Yale Police Department recently upgraded Bulldog Mobile, an iPhone application designed to keep students safe and allow quicker contact with the police. But very few Yalies have actually downloaded the new product, according to interviews with students.
Launched in early July, the app offers several safety features. The “Summon Help” option allows users to call police while simultaneously sending them their current location and profile information. “SafeWalk” invites friends and families to follow the user’s location on a real-time map. And, “Share information — Quick Text Tips” allows users to submit tips and reports about campus safety concerns and enables them to live-chat with campus safety officials.
Bulldog Mobile is Yale’s version of LiveSafe — an app used by schools in more than 25 states as a way to promote public safety around university campuses. Georgetown University made its first LiveSafe-related arrest last fall after a student used the app to report an act of indecent exposure.
In previous years, Yale Security used a mobile safety app called Rave Guardian, which offered several similar features, including location-tracking services and a panic button option that reported the profile of the user to nearby police officers.
According to Assistant Chief of Police Lieutenant Mike Patten, the YPD decided to switch to Bulldog Mobile because it was more intuitive.
The YPD has publicized the app through announcements at the freshman safety meetings conducted during orientation and through emails to the student body.
“I’m asking staff members to become BDM ambassadors touting its many safety features to members within their departments. If they start by downloading it to their phones, they’ll start using it and can encourage other staff to download it as well,” said Chief Ronnell Higgins in a public statement on the Yale public safety page.
In the statement, Higgins also encouraged students to familiarize themselves with the app and other related safety services in his fall public safety email to the student body.
Despite the YPD’s efforts to publicize the app and push for students to download the app during orientation meetings, many students still have not downloaded it. Of 30 freshmen interviewed, all said they had heard of the application but only five said that they had it on their phones.
Seven students said they do not think the application is necessary and two added that they believe the app contains features that they would not utilize even in the case of an emergency.
“I didn’t get the point. It just seemed quicker and easier to call 9-1-1,” said Adam Krok ’19.
The number of app users is even smaller among older students. Of 40 sophomores, juniors and seniors interviewed, only eight reported that they were aware of Bulldog Mobile/LiveSafe and only three reported that they had downloaded it.
Bulldog Mobile/LiveSafe is free for download for both iPhone and Android on the Apple App store and the Google Play store.