Mail app

Students and faculty share their thoughts on the new campus safety app Orange Safe

Get the latest news from Syracuse delivered straight to your inbox.
Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety launched Orange Safe, a new campus safety app, on August 22. The new app replaced the Rave Guardian app, which SU has been using since February 2021.

Orange Safe provides students, faculty, and staff with a number of tools to stay connected and receive important campus notifications, communicate with campus security, and access the most needed resources, according to the DPS website.

SU has partnered with AppArmor to make the app as simple as possible while still providing the most important safety-related information to the campus community, said Christine Weber, communications manager for Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services, in an email to the Daily Orange.

Shabeeb Ameen, a graduate student from the College of Arts and Sciences who also works as a teaching assistant, appreciated that the app also connects community members to resources available at Barnes Center at the Arch.

Ameen said he would tell his students to download the app on the first day of class if he knew, especially if they were attending a class late at night. He said the university could create posters with the app’s QR code to promote downloads.

Kfir Shoham, a freshman at the College of Arts and Sciences, said his parents told him to download the app to his phone, but he never used it.

“I don’t feel the need to use it yet, so I haven’t found it useful,” he said.

Chris Cho, a first-year philosophy doctoral student, said he was unaware of the app until he was interviewed. Cho thinks DPS could put up more posters advertising the app and the resources it has for students. Cho said he uses the Security Escort Shuttle, which operates nightly from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Students tend not to read emails college-wide carefully, Cho said, so promoting the app that way wouldn’t be as effective.

After downloading the app, Cho said that once he was more familiar with the tools and functions of Orange Safe, he thought there should be a better way to present resources than the app. contains.

“If I go to a security escort shuttle and I go to a shuttle operation area, they give me the entire web page. But I feel like they could just extract this which is important to the web page and then (present it) in a much more user-friendly way,” Cho said.

At the top of the homepage, the app has a banner announcing the latest DPS news. The feature is positioned above a red emergency contact button for 911 and nine other features.

Jeff Passetti, a professor who teaches web design at SU, said the homepage banner might not be the best place to put the ads.

“All the important things that I think (should) be right on top,” Passetti said. “It’s good if it’s informative about emergencies or crises. But right now he’s announcing what’s going on with the Ministry of Public Security in terms of PR and blogging.

Features include a map of SU’s blue lights, DPS reporting tips, a “safety toolkit” – which can send a message that the user is fine to a recipient of their choice – and resources from general support.

“I think the main battle is no longer the design, app awareness is probably the biggest hurdle they’ll face,” Passetti said.

Weber told the DO that the app had 3,607 subscribers as of Friday.

Passetti also mentioned that some default smartphone systems will automatically delete apps that haven’t been used for months, leaving him worried that students who aren’t using the app might have to redownload the app in a crisis. He said 20 to 3o seconds of downloading could be critical to student safety.

Adam Peruta, magazine associate, professor of news and digital journalism at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, has designed several apps, including ‘Cuse Challenge – which encourages SU students to participate in campus culture – and Yank Alerts , a personal security application. Peruta, who teaches interactive design and UI/UX, said SU hasn’t done enough research on what students want from a security app.

“I think the problem is when you don’t really understand your audience, you end up designing something that you think people are going to use and it ends up being totally irrelevant,” Peruta said.

Despite the design flaws, the app has features that work well and students should be aware of them, Peruta said. However, he added that members of Gen Z have very high expectations for their digital experiences.

“If you don’t meet those expectations,” he said, “people won’t use the app.”