Have you ever felt nervous walking home at night? BYU’s SafeWalk app offers some security by having University Police track the user’s location when in use.
Reporter Ally O’Rullian tested the app three times with different variables to see how well it worked, specifically testing the feature that contacts the users by text or call if they’re in the same place for too long to check if they’re okay.
The results were complicated.
Three days, three locations and three vastly different results.
Day one test was north of campus at 6:30 p.m. She walked, stopped, started timing and waited for an hour. After waiting for so long, she called them and an hour and ten minutes into waiting and about ten minutes into the call, she finally got a text.
So she tried it out again to see if the first time was a fluke.
Day two occurred south of campus. BYU journalism student Kristine Kim came with the reporter and went on a walk to see if different users got different results.
“It took 38 minutes,” Kim said. Less time than the first test, but still a while to be standing in one place at night.
Day three was south of campus at 7 a.m. This time the test happened in the morning instead of the last two times at night and this test was the most surprising.
It only took 15fifteen minutes total for the SafeWalk session and less than a minute of waiting to be contacted.
But why were the results so different?
Ally O’Rullian met up with BYU’s head of security to find out.
“Again it’s not an exact science, it’s hard to be an exact science you know?,” head of BYU security Steve Goodman said.
Time of day, location, user error and security awareness all factor in. When the app detects a difference in speed or direction of the walk, an alert pops up to security, who then have to decide whether or not to alert the user.
The first walk gave security seven alerts, the second walk gave one and the third gave three.
BYU security also looks at cameras that monitor on and around campus to see if the user is safe. No cameras were used during the reporter’s walks.
Overall, SafeWalk offers some security University Police will know exactly where you are. But security uses personal judgement to decide whether or not to contact the user.
In part three of this series, The Daily Universe will look into where sexual assault most often happens, and it’s not necessarily on your walk home.