UNH Launches uSafeUS App to Prevent Sexual Assault and Improve Response

Monday, September 18, 2017

uSafeUS application

DURHAM, N.H. — The Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire has released a new nationwide version of its smartphone app for Apple® and Android® to help prevent sexual assault of college and university students as well as improve response to victims.

Based on the earlier uSafeNH™ app which was launched at 21 New Hampshire colleges and universities in 2016, uSafeUS provides important new safety features and a new student-influenced design, along with new tools to help campuses engage students and provide resources to victims in the event of a sexual assault, at the moment they need them.

Features include Time to Leave™, which students can use to send themselves a simulated text or phone call which provides an excuse to leave an uncomfortable situation, and Angel Drink, which offers a discreet way for students to notify a bartender or wait staff that help is needed. The Expect Me™ feature, originally included in uSafeNH, enables students walking home alone at night to let a friend know they may need help. Expect Me has been redesigned to include a new visual timer and texting option.  

In the event of an assault, uSafeUS provides victims, family, friends and other allies with critical information about where to get help both on campus and in the local community, along with essential, research-informed information about options for dealing with the aftermath of an assault. An innovative navigation bar helps victims and allies explore options for reporting, ways to get help, self-care, and more.

“Preventing sexual assault is a top priority for every college and university, but schools face many challenges in delivering on this critical mission,” said Sharyn Potter, executive director of research for the center and professor of sociology. “Information for students and allies must often be searched for on websites, information may not be aligned between campuses and providers, and Title IX and student affairs staff are often overworked and under-resourced. Our research shows that the impact of assault on the victim can be lifelong. Our goal is to help prevent assaults where possible, and to help schools put trauma-informed information directly into the hands of students and those who support them at the exact moment they are needed. uSafeUS achieves this by giving schools a customizable platform to manage their prevention and response strategies.”

A key element of the new uSafeUS platform is an implementation toolkit for campuses. E-mail and social media communications are included, along with posters, tools for campus residence life staff and checklists for launching. Not only do these help campuses launch the app successfully, they save Title IX and student affairs personnel significant time. Colleges and universities also receive anonymous user analytics about app usage at their campus.

Keene State College has used the earlier version of uSafeUS for a year. Jeff Maher, Title IX coordinator for Keene says, “The app is a great resource for our students, faculty, and staff alike. We encourage not only our students to download it but also, all our campus community members. It’s a great tool to help someone impacted by sexual violence make the choices that best suit their needs.”

uSafeUS was inspired by the statewide coordinator of New Hampshire’s Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) Program, Kathy Kimball, and developed in consultation with the NH Attorney General’s Office, the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and the NH Violence Against Women Campus Consortium. The new nationwide version of the app was substantially informed by feedback from student focus groups and interviews with campus administrators.

For more than a decade, the Prevention Innovations Research Center has conducted collaborative research with community partners, publishing ground-breaking research and launching a range of innovative resources to reduce sexual and relationship violence and stalking. PIRC is a trusted research partner with colleges and universities throughout the US and Europe, and has been recognized through numerous national awards.

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.