York zones in on campus safety

The University of York has launched a free app to help to give round-the-clock safety reassurance to staff and students

York is the first University in the Russell Group to roll out the simple-to-use, free application designed to help students and staff on campus to summon security or safety assistance via their mobile phones.

The SafeZone app allows security or first aid personnel to pinpoint the location where help is needed.  It also provides staff and students with a way of summoning general assistance swiftly from the Security Services help desk through a simple tap of an on-screen button.

Nearly 20,000 students and staff will be able to access three main features using SafeZone — emergency, first aid and general help.  Emergency and first aid options will bring security or first aid officers to the location of the call, while the general help button connects directly to the Campus Services Helpdesk.

The app will also help the University send targeted notification messages to staff and students in the event of an incident in particular areas or buildings on campus.

Security staff across campus have put the system through exhaustive trials for more than a month and the University will stage a series of roadshows this week to explain how staff and students can sign up for the app. The app works within designated zones covering Heslington West, Heslington East, the King’s Manor and the University Boathouse.

Denis Fowler, the University’s Director of Health and Safety said: “Our campus is already very safe but this app gives students and staff extra reassurance that assistance is no more than the touch of a button away.

“The app allows us to monitor the positions of security personnel and first aiders so we can deploy them swiftly and efficiently to provide assistance and support where necessary.  Previously, in the event of an emergency many students automatically called 999 but SafeZone provides a more targeted method of summoning assistance on campus.”

The University has worked with the developers of SafeZone, Australian company CriticalArc, to introduce the system.

Darren Chalmers-Stevens, EMEA Director, CriticalArc, said: “SafeZone’s adoption at the University of York is testament to how it can revolutionise the way education institutions manage their day-to-day security and safety operations, while ensuring a safer learning environment.

“SafeZone provides security teams and first responders with the right information quickly, to improve their ability to react to situations efficiently and appropriately. By providing an unobtrusive security application versus traditional physical security equipment, we’re empowering the University to mitigate risk and improve brand reputation through enhanced duty of care, while gaining significant efficiencies through the improved deployment of manned response teams.”