SEATTLE -- On Wednesday, Seattle University became the first college in the country to back a smartphone app designed to deter crime. The service is called iWitness and was designed and developed by a Seattle-based company.
In a release, Tim Marron, the Executive Director of Public Safety and Transportation for Seattle University was quoted as saying:
"My goal is to ensure the safety of the Seattle University community not only when they are on the SU campus, but in their daily lives, and iWitness is an additional tool that we are presenting to our community. While using the application can potentially serve as a preventive measure, we believe the very act of installing the application will serve as a catalyst for heightening a student's awareness."
KING 5 asked smartphone holding SU students what they thought about the idea.
"It makes me feel safer, that they're thinking about it," said freshman Abby Bouck. "These days we kind of always have our phones out or really close by."
For that reason, she says the app just might work.
When armed, iWitness records a video clip and automatically uploads it to a secure server. It will also call 911, notify family and friends and sound an alarm with the push of a button, if you feel like you're in danger.
"The essence is that while I'm in an area by myself or where I don't feel completely comfortable, I can have my own witness with me, which is the one thing we know a criminal hates, is a witness," said iWitness Founder and Chairman Dave Remer.
He calls the app a virtual witness and believes it will help deter attacks on college campuses as well as city streets.
"If an attacker steps out of the bushes, so to speak, and begins his crime, his incentive quickly switches and his best idea now is to step backwards, to run for it, because we sorta have him boxed in," said Remer.
Some students on the campus of Seattle University said they'd be willing to download the app and try it out, but they worry about it calling 911 in times that turn out to not be a true emergency.
"Because it if always calls 911 right away and it turns out to be nothing, that wouldn't be good," said freshman Stephanie Spiekerman.
The iWitness app is free to download, but upon enrolling in the services, you'll monthly fee of $2.99 or a yearly fee of $29.99.
You can learn more about it here.