Public Safety to release new safety app

Susanna Fravell, Staff Writer

We have so much technology at the tips of our fingers in today’s world. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube crowd our phone screens but a new app is gaining popularity.

Wildfire, a safety app where users can report crimes and post warnings for their surrounding area, was created in 2015 for the University of California – Berkeley campus and has since spread to other colleges and universities. The app allows users to post anything they want, not just safety concerns. The app’s idea was in 2015 when one of the founders was nearly mugged at his campus, UC Berkeley. 

Some people use the app for its intended purpose but the vast majority of the content on the platform are posts more Twitter-worthy than safety-related. 

Public Safety Staff Sergeant Brian McWilliams said Wildfire seemed like a cross between Twitter and their new app, Rave Guardian, which Public Safety plans to release the week after fall break.  

Both McWilliams and Public Safety Director Stephen Bequette didn’t have much to say about Wildfire but are excited to introduce their Rave Guardian to students. The new app connects to Rave Alert to help students be safer.

The new app has multiple features, one of which is a walking timer. Students can click on the option in the app and it will have them select an emergency contact. After the contact is selected, they can put in how much time it will take them to get to their destination. If the student does not check-in within the time limit, it will notify the contact.

“I think it’ll add another layer of security,” sophomore Micheal Rust said.

Another feature of the app is the option to text the Public Safety dispatch center. The user can choose to either remain anonymous or be identified. The dispatch center can pull up the student’s name, student ID, phone number, vehicle, location, allergies and medications if the student chooses to be identified

“All this is completely voluntary, you don’t have to add any of that,” McWilliams said. “Instead, it’s very user-friendly.” 

Public Safety designed this app to make it easier to interact with the community. 

“You see someone on University Boulevard driving crazy, I don’t have to look for numbers to call, I can text it real quick,” Bequette said.

Resident Assistant Oliva Thomas said Rave Guardian could be more effective than Wildfire if it doesn’t have a public chat feature. 

“I think the texting feature is really great for situations where you might not necessarily feel safe to call or don’t want people around you to know you’re in contact with Public Safety,” she said.