SAN ANTONIO – The University of the Incarnate Word rolled out a new safety app for its students to have quick and direct contact with law enforcement officials.

The app, called Rave Guardian, is a nationally used safety feature that is free for Apple and Android phone users.

Cpl. Jim Snow, with the campus police department, said the new app, which is tailored to the university, is a great addition to the security system in place.

"We had the RAVE system, which is an emergency alert system, for several years and it has been great," Snow said. "That is where we could broadcast information to a good portion of our community. We've had the ability to contact our community for a long time. Now, we are giving them the availability to contact us and others through the app."

The app has several features in addition to having a button to directly call campus dispatch or 911.

"There is the chatting feature," Snow said. "You can go in and ... click any of these options, like suspicious activity. You can type in that message, hit send and it goes automatically to our dispatch, and it is going to pull up on a map exactly where that person is."

The app also has a unique timer feature.

"You can go in and it actually goes to your address book, and you can have anyone you want in your address book to be the recipient," Snow said. "You would set this timer for as long as you need it to be. For example, it will send a message to that person saying, ‘I didn't arrive' or ‘I did arrive,' and they will be able to get that information, so they will know if someone doesn't get there in time. They may want to give them a call to make sure everything is OK."

Snow said having this type of communication is key to a safe campus.

"We would rather go out a thousand times and it be nothing than not get that one phone call where we could have made a difference," Snow said. "This app is important because our students will be able to call our dispatcher directly and text with our dispatch directly. It is all the different options they have, and we are giving our community as many routes to get to us as possible."

In addition to downloading the app, which is only for those with campus credentials of some sort, Snow is also encouraging students to take extra safety measures, as well.

"Safety and security start with you," Snow said. "We can't be everywhere at once. We try to be as many places as we can, but we ask everybody to take a proactive step in everyone else's safety. Never travel alone, be aware of your surroundings, and always let someone know where you are or going to be."