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UMD-College Park Rolls Out New Safety App For Students' Smartphones

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The camera on the smartphone can send audio and video to campus police, which can be viewed as it happens live, in a new safety application being implemented at University of Maryland, College Park.
Matt Bush
The camera on the smartphone can send audio and video to campus police, which can be viewed as it happens live, in a new safety application being implemented at University of Maryland, College Park.

The campus at the University of Maryland, College Park is very large, and some students may not feel safe walking alone. But a new application for their smartphones is meant to ensure that campus police are just seconds away.

The app was created in a lab at the school, and can connect a student to campus police with just a push of button.

Through the phone's camera and microphone, officers will be able to see and hear whether a student is being followed or attacked. Dr. Ashok Agrawala, a professor of computer science at the school, helped develop the technology, which he says is not in use anywhere else in the world.

"This application will allow the audio and the video to go to the officer's police vehicle as a matter of routine," Agrawala says. "And the next step would be that if the officer leaves the vehicle, and goes off and has a phone, and on the phone the audio and video can be seen."

Agrawala says he believes it will be very helpful for students who may not feel safe walking back to dorms on the campus late at night by themselves.

"You are in an area where you have any kind of concern about your safety, keep the phone in your hand," he says. "And this application can be running in the background, and all you would need to do is push one button, and the whole thing gets going."

The app is free, and will be available following Labor Day.

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