MUSG, DPS beta work on BlueLight safety app

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/

Julia Pagliarulo

Marquette Student Government and the Department of Public Safety are working together to implement a new way keep students safe: a free mobile app called BlueLight.

The app alerts DPS if it is used by a student on campus, but automatically switches to alerting the police if the person uses it outside of those boundaries.

On Android phones, the call button is on the lock screen of the phone to provide easy access in case of an emergency. Additionally, the app allows users to program their emergency contacts into it, and Blue Light Safety alerts these contacts through a text message whenever the user requests help.

It also has a function called “on my way” that lets users select any contact in their phone to receive a notification that a person is on their way from one location to another.

“Anyone can download this app and use it in the Marquette area and it works great,” MUSG President Kyle Whelton said.

BlueLight is still in the Beta testing phase for Android users, and needs to prepare a build for Apple’s IOS7 and IOS8. As of now, the app isn’t available on the lock screen for those phones.

“We will not endorse anything that isn’t fully functional for both users,” Whelton said.

He also said that the university’s general council is reviewing the app and has not yet made a decision on it. A decision from the university is expected before January.

Marquette did some focus groups about students’ safety on campus, and it was almost unanimous that they wanted some kind of safety app on their phone, Whelton said.

Katherine Berigan, a DPS lieutenant, said she wants to give students as many options to contact DPS as possible.

“We know students love using technology and their smart phones,” Berigan said. “I hope it encourages people to contact DPS if something doesn’t seem right. We want them to be comfortable contacting us.”

Preet Anand, an alumnus of Santa Clara University, created BlueLight to promote safety on college campuses. MUSG and DPS met with Anand in September as part of a search to find a safety app to install at Marquette.

MUSG and DPS explored other safety application options, but BlueLight is a free app for both students and the university. One of the options, the Rave Mobile Safety app, would cost $2,000 for initial installation and $6,000 in annual operation cost, covered indirectly through tuition costs.