Wash. U. becomes first university to offer SafeTrek app to all free of charge

Danielle Drake-Flam | News Editor

While many college students across the nation use the safety app called SafeTrek, Washington University is the first higher-education institution to pair up with the company itself to make the app free for all students, faculty, staff and basic service contractor employees at the University.

SafeTrek is designed to provide peace of mind in potentially unsafe locations, such as when walking home late at night from the library or walking to a car in a dark parking garage. SafeTrek users can activate the app by simply touching their phone screens to hold down a large “release when safe” button if in an unsafe situation, releasing it and entering a four-digit pin once they’ve reached your destination.

SafeTrek is a mobile blue light app that alerts law enforcement when contact is broken with the phone screen while the user walks. Washington University is the first university to offer the safety app to its entire community at no additional cost.Jordan Chow | Student Life

SafeTrek is a mobile blue light app that alerts law enforcement when contact is broken with the phone screen while the user walks. Washington University is the first university to offer the safety app to its entire community at no additional cost.

A committee of Washington University staff from various departments including Campus Life, Student Technology Services, Student Affairs and Washington University Police Department (WUPD_ first met in the spring of 2017 to discuss safety and community concerns on campus. It was during these committee meetings that they discovered the SafeTrek app and made the decision to make the app, which normally costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year, free for all affiliated with the University.

Washington University Police Chief Mark Glenn explained how the committee was able to work out a contract deal with SafeTrek in order to make the app free.

“The people at SafeTrek were really good to work with and really understand the University community,” Glenn said, “We wanted to make sure that everyone…had the opportunity to utilize this service. We just felt it was important for us to make sure everyone in our community had access to this app.”

Although the decision to implement SafeTrek into campus life was made in the spring, it wasn’t until summer rolled around that the University was able to secure the app for the school year. The app was first showcased at the Bear Beginnings freshmen orientation, where it was incorporated into the WUPD presentation.

A school-wide email will be sent out within the next week that includes a link for students to follow in order to download the app for free. Glenn strongly encourages all students to download SafeTrek, as he feels it is a great safety tool.

“I would highly encourage [students to download the app],” Glenn said, “We always look at safety and security as a tool box; we provide various tools…this is one of those tools that can be very helpful to summon help quickly in an emergency.”

Contract Manager Liason Gary Maus agrees, even going as far as to say that he thinks it’s more effective than 911.

“I really think it’s better than 911,” Maus said, “You don’t have to actually talk to a 911 operator…Help gets sent whether you say ‘send help’ or not. It’s not a perfect tool, but it sure is an improvement over anything that we have, in my opinion.”

The app doesn’t just work for campus, but extends to any area that you travel to within the continental U.S. It can identify your exact GPS coordinates within five meters and send immediate help to your location.

Glenn stressed the importance of taking advantage of the app, explaining that it equips the Washington University community with an easy-to-use safety tool that guarantees a quick response.

“The easiest way for me to explain is that we just put a blue light in everybody’s pocket, so no matter where you’re at, you just press a button and we’ll get help to you,” Glenn said, “And in today’s world, it’s just so helpful that people have a tool for thdm that’s easy to use and provides a quick response and quick service.”

  • philipithomas

    My phone is normally low on battery at the end of the day. Keeping the screen on drains it faster.

    What happens if a phone dies while using the app? Will it phone in the cavalry thinking that I’ve been kidnapped?