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Bowdoin SAFE app streamlines security resources

November 12, 2021

Last Friday, Director of Security Randy Nichols announced the rollout of a new app called Bowdoin SAFE in an email sent to the campus community.

“Bowdoin SAFE has personal safety features of all sorts, and makes it easier to contact Safety and Security or 9-1-1 in an emergency,” Nichols wrote.

The app’s layout contains boxes with links to various safety and security resources such as a button that calls the Bowdoin Shuttle, a map of campus and the phone number and link to the website for counseling services.

The Office of Safety and Security developed the app with the help of AppArmor Mobile, a Toronto-based software company. AppArmor Mobile specializes in creating mobile safety apps for colleges and universities. The company has worked to develop similar apps for the University of Guelph, Queen’s University and Jacksonville University, among other institutions.

Bowdoin SAFE contains features unique to AppArmor, including a Mobile Blue Light that calls and shares your location with the Office of Safety and Security in case of an emergency, Friend Walk, a feature that shares your location and intended destination with a friend through text messages and Virtual Walk Home, which shares your location and intended destination with the Office of Safety and Security until you arrive at your destination.

The app requires access to the user’s location and other personal data, raising questions about users’ data privacy. In AppArmor Mobile’s Privacy Policy, the company states that the collection and use of personal information is implied when one has “notice and a reasonable opportunity to opt-out, such as by not using the platform or mobile app.”

In developing this safety app, Bowdoin continues the trend of colleges and universities modernizing their security resources in an increasingly digital landscape.

Nichols said he hopes that the app will be “useful, intuitive and easy to use” for students, and points them to share “feedback, suggestions and creative ideas” with him and his office.

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