UCCS Safe app received positive feedback, triple the number of downloads compared to predecessor

Downloads for UCCS’ new safety app have tripled the total downloads of the old app since its release.

The UCCS Safe app has gotten 1,480 downloads since its release on Sept. 15, 2023, which is a stark difference from its predecessor, Rave Guardian, which only had 450 downloads throughout the total time the program was active.

Chief of Police Dewayne McCarver said the app’s downloads grew following the double homicide at UCCS on Feb. 16, but it was growing even before the shooting, which he attributes to the overhaul of safety features the new app has compared to the old one.

McCarver noted the new safety app has also seen an increase in feedback, most of which is positive. “The old app, we got very little, if any feedback on it ever. People just didn’t use it. Now we get regular feedback about the [new] app, and about its ease of use and the information it provides,” he said.

According to McCarver, Rave Guardian was a standard safety app used by colleges around the country, but UCCS Police were having trouble getting people to download it.

“You had to download it, then you had to search out UCCS, then you had to sign in … people might download it, but when they started trying to get through all that they’d just forget it, really,” McCarver said.

The old Rave Guardian app cost about $5,000 a year to maintain, whereas the new UCCS Safe app costs $9,000. McCarver thinks the increase has resulted in priceless investment in safety for the campus, saying that it’s one of the most useful tools UCCS has had in a long time for public safety.

McCarver said that when students don’t feel safe on campus or see something out of the ordinary, calling 911 can feel like a big jump; UCCS Safe bridges this gap by making it so that students can text authorities on campus if they feel something is out of the ordinary.

McCarver noted students can request a virtual safety walk in the new app, and campus police will virtually escort the student to their desired destination. Before the overhaul, the safety walks were only able to be done in person.

“You’re allowing dispatch to know where your phone is … So when you move around campus, we monitor where you’re at until you disable it,” McCarver said.

The app contains campus wellness resources, safety protocols and public safety videos, including a tutorial of what to do in the case of an active shooter.

McCarver said UCCS Safe is one of a kind, even in the CU system. There is no Safe app for CU Boulder, but McCarver said that officials at Boulder are very impressed with the overhaul to UCCS’ safety app, which was largely spearheaded by Chris Parsons, the previous UCCS fire marshal.

McCarver said that there are no immediate updates incoming for UCCS Safe, but he hopes to include an ADA access map to the app in the future.

A student navigates the UCCS Safe App from their phone. Photo illustration by Megan Moen.