Apps to Help Students Stay Safe

Content From: Linda Lawson, New Media Fellow, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: August 19, 20142 min read



It’s back to school time and as we send our students to school with books and other necessary supplies, it might be helpful to keep in mind several technology solutions that can help students stay healthy and safe on campus.

Among these technology solutions are a number of mobile apps that are being developed by and for colleges across the country to address sexual assaults and other crimes on campuses. Two of these apps, Circle of 6Exit Disclaimer and OnWatchExit Disclaimer, are products that were developed as part of a technology challenge sponsored by the White House and the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services. Recognizing the role that these applications have in keeping students safe and healthy, Vice President Joe Biden said, “Thanks to the creativity and vision of these developers, young people now have a new line of defense against violence in their lives.”

Circle of 6 is a smartphone app that allows you to create a circle of six trusted friends who will receive a pre-written text message in the event of an unsafe or dangerous moment. The pre-written messages can include messages like, "Call me and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.” Text messages can be customized, and Circle of 6 allows you to tap broader networks and emergency numbers.

OnWatch works in a similar way. You can program the app with custom messages and important contacts. The app can notify a friend or family member when you arrive at home, when you go on a run, or if you find yourself in an unsafe situation.

Like Circle of 6 and OnWatch, the HIV Testing Sites and Care Services Locator can be an important tool to help students stay healthy and safe on campus. The HIV testing locator app uses GPS to help you stay healthy and safe by providing information on nearby HIV testing services, as well as resources for housing, mental health, substance abuse and more.Are you starting school or know someone who is starting school? Tell us the ways in which you use technology to enhance your personal safety. How do you use those tools to create a culture of prevention and health?