UNH Launches New Campus Sexual Assault Prevention App
Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire recently launched a free smartphone app, uSafeNH, to help prevent sexual assault on Granite State college and university campuses and provide victims and their allies with access to immediate assistance and resources. It is available to students at 21 of the state’s colleges and universities. iPhone and Android users can download the app free of charge by going to the App Store or Google Play and searching for uSafeNH.
“The development, launch and evaluation of the uSafeNH project speaks to the commitment of PIRC researchers and practitioners to bring together community constituents with an inter-disciplinary team of researchers to creatively address needs in the community,” said Sharyn Potter, professor of sociology and PIRC executive director of research.
The inspiration for the app came from a conversation between Potter and Kathy Kimball, a retired state trooper and head of the state’s Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) about the need to get information on the state’s many resources into the hands of college students. PIRC, the STEM Discovery Lab at UNH Manchester, N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, NH Violence Against Women Campus Consortium, and N.H. SART Project at the Attorney General’s Office partnered to create the app.
“Bringing together my interest in advocacy and support of victims and their families with technology has been an exciting endeavor,” said Britta Ekdahl, a UNH master’s student and project manager for the creation of the app who previously worked as a crisis advocate. “Working with a variety of academic disciplines has mirrored the work we do as advocates when we are members of multidisciplinary teams.”
Features of the app include campus and user-specific frequently asked questions, along with a comprehensive list of specific campus, local, state, and national resources pertinent to sexual assault. uSafeNH is geo-spatially configured so that victims and their supporters are able to access support information in their immediate vicinity. There is also a section that provides step-by-step options and information regarding forensic exams, decisions to report, and ongoing support following an assault. The information available on uSafeNH is tailored to seven different categories of users: victims, friends, supportive partners, family members, faculty/staff, off-campus community members, and prospective students.
There is also a feature on the app called “Expect Me.” Users who are walking home from class or the library late night, or have lost their friends at a party, can enter in the number of minutes to get to their destination and a friend or roommates’ number, in other words, someone who is expecting them in a certain amount of time. If the user is late or does not arrive in the stated amount of time the app will automatically call their contact person.
The development of the app was underwritten by PIRC until earlier this year when Jane Stapleton, PIRC executive director of practice, delivered a winning pitch and earned a $25,000 prize from the N.H. Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurs’ Fund to complete development and testing of the app. More information on PIRC and uSafeNH.