Campus safety is an unavoidable concern for most campuses, especially in light of the increasing coverage of sexual assaults and other violent crimes.
While universities have implemented multiple safety measures, there are always situations when victims need more assistance.
In many emergency situations, especially with crimes such as assault or domestic violence, victims aren’t always able to verbally communicate what they need in order to get help.
In response to this prevalent issue, Zach Winkler, a business graduate from the University of Missouri, created the application Safe Trek for people to use in emergency situations where they are unable to speak or need police dispatched as quickly as possible.
“The University of Missouri paid tons of money for these blue light safety measures on campus that students could use in emergency situations to dispatch campus safety or police, but these issues like sexual harassment and assaults were still occurring,” Winkler said.
Safe Trek works by having the user launch the app and hold down a safety button whenever they are feeling unsafe.
When the user is safe, they release the button and enter a safety pin number.
If the situation escalates and the user needs assistance then all they need to do is release the button and not type in the safety code, which then alerts local authorities of an emergency situation along with the user’s location.
“Let’s say you’re walking home late at night from the library and you feel a little uneasy and want some sort of safety measure you can rely on…all you do is hold down the button, and once you get home you just release it and type in your safety code,” Winkler said. “If there is some sort of issue you just release the button and if you don’t type in the code then a police officer will be dispatched to your location in 10 minutes.”
A problem with relying on 911 in certain emergency situations is that it can take the police up to six minutes to get someone’s location if they are unable to verbally communicate it. Even then, they can only pinpoint it within 300m of accuracy.
With Safe Trek they can pinpoint the location instantly.
For Allison, a Safe Trek user from Pasadena Texas, Safe Trek was the only way she could communicate her location and need for assistance to the authorities when she was concerned about her safety during an encounter from an aggressive and angry ex boyfriend.
“I tried to call the police but was too scared to put the phone to my ear. When this failed I remembered that I had downloaded an app called SafeTrek, so I pressed and let go of the emergency button,” Allison said. “About 15 minutes later the police found us and were able to successfully defuse the situation. They said that my original call could not give an accurate location so that they had been circling around the area but SafeTrek was able to provide specific coordinates which helped them locate exactly where I was.”
The application has blossomed to reach a wide variety of users, not just college students.
With over a quarter million users, it has been used in all sorts of emergency situations ranging from medical concerns to domestic violence.
The app runs at $2.99/month, but users can sign up for a free seven day trial to test out the application before they purchase it.
It is available anywhere in the United States and is compatible with both IOS and Android.
“When you’re in danger the only thing you want is help, and the last thing you want to have to worry about is struggling to get information to the police or medical professionals,” Winkler said. “Safe Trek does the hard work for you. All you have to do is push a button.”