Duke’s Safety App Gets New Look and Features

Input from the Duke community helped shape redesign of free LiveSafe app

People walking on campus.
Associate Dean of Students and Director of DuWell Tom Szigethy, left, and School of Nursing Clinical Research Coordinator Maralis Mercado Emerson, right, are among the 16,200 who have downloaded the LiveSafe app.

Nikki Holland, a dental assistant at the Duke Aesthetic Center, added the free LiveSafe app to her smartphone not long after it was made available to the Duke community in 2016.

Aside from the app alerting about downed trees or other incidents such as severe weather, she hasn’t had to use the app’s other features, such as the ability to quickly message the Duke University Police Department to report suspicious activity.

But, Holland said that doesn’t lessen the appreciation she has for the app.

“I like to know it’s there if I need it,” Holland said.

The LiveSafe app, available at no charge to Duke staff, faculty, students, visitors and parents, is offered for Apple and Android devices. Among the features, the app allows community members to submit messages about incidents to Duke Police with the touch of a button. Staff in the Duke University Police Department communications center monitor messages 24/7.

This summer, the app had a comprehensive update that includes new functionality and an easier-to-use home screen. The redesign was guided by survey data LiveSafe received from the Duke community, providing insight into how the app is used and which services are most popular.

Home screen of LiveSafe app.The most notable change is to the home screen, which now allows users to scroll through a list of features on cards similar to the “Wallet” feature on iPhones and iPads. The new interface makes it easier to select and reach a wider range of services. For example, users can now find separate cards to “Report Suspicious Activity,” “Request a Duke Van,” and “Track Campus Buses,” which provides a quick connection to real-time locations of Duke buses.

The “SafeWalk” feature, the most popular among Duke users, is now featured as its own card, located at the top of the home screen. The SafeWalk feature uses GPS technology to allow family or friends to virtually escort you to your destination. “Emergency Options” (call 911, call Duke police and message Duke police) are a separate card as well.

If you already have the app and the new configuration does not appear, sign out of the app and then sign back in to refresh the version.

During a test of the DukeALERT emergency notification system on July 17, Duke community members are encouraged to download and try out the app. About 16,200 community members have downloaded the app to date.

LiveSafe app wallet cards.“We are encouraged by the number of students and staff who have downloaded and used the app,” said Duke Police Chief John Dailey. “We want to continue to ensure it meets the needs of our community by allowing users to stay informed and play an active role in keeping themselves and Duke safe.”  

Elizabeth Richardson, a communications specialist with the Duke Economics Department, recalls LiveSafe keeping her informed when campus fell under a tornado warning last summer.

“It’s comforting to know that Duke cares about its employees enough to have something like this,” Richardson said. “It shows that Duke values communication. If something bad were to happen or even if it’s just the weather, it’s good to be kept up to date on everything.”

While the app may has a new look and functions, that doesn’t change the appreciation people like Nikki Holland have for it.

“Safety is the most important thing,” Holland said. “I’ve gone around our department and asked if people have this on their phone. If they don’t, I’ll tell them ‘You should.’”

Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with Working@Duke.