Episode 03: The Safe NYU App
Sean Hackett, Manager, Open Source Analysis, Global Security Operations Center, and William Karnadi, Manager, Emergency Management - both members of NYU’s Department of Campus Safety - share the value of the Safe NYU mobile campus safety app. William was immersed in the development of the app for the New York City user and Sean was responsible for global and travel information.
Sean Hackett is the Manager of Open Source Analysis in Public Safety's Global Security Operations Center, which monitors the world for any incidents that could impact students, faculty, or staff during their travels and helps support the NYU community in conducting classes, research, and social services in over 120 countries. Sean has a Master of Science in Transnational Security from NYU's Center for Global Affairs. Prior to working at NYU, Sean was an Intelligence Analyst at AIG's Global Security Operations Center with a regional focus on Latin America.
William Karnadi is the Manager of Emergency Management at New York University where he supports the creation and implementation of the University's all-hazards plan and Safe NYU. In addition, he is also serving as the Metro Planning Coordinator for Team Rubicon, a disaster response non-profit founded by veterans. His experience with Team Rubicon consists of multiple deployments including the organization’s response to Hurricane Harvey. Prior to joining NYU, he earned his Masters degree in Public Administration from NYU and served in the United States Army with one deployment to Afghanistan.
Intro Voices [00:00:05] Where do I go? It only happened once. I think I was singled out. The phone calls began about one month ago. What is hazing? Something happened to me when I was younger. I'm worried about my safety. He said he was sorry. Can someone help me? Where can I get help? Can someone help me?
Intro Voices [00:00:31] This is “You Matter” a podcast for the NYU community developed by the Department of Public Safety.
Karen Ortman [00:00:37] Hi everyone and welcome back to “You Matter.” A podcast created to teach, inspire, and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I am your co-host Karen Ortman, Assistant Vice President of Field Operations at the Department of Public Safety and a retired law enforcement professional.
Sabah Fatima [00:01:05] And I am Sabah Fatima, premed graduate student here at NYU College of Global Public Health. If any information presented today's triggering or disturbing please feel free to contact the Wellness Exchange at (212) 443-9999.
Karen Ortman [00:01:14] Today we introduce the Department of Public Safety’s own Sean Hackett, manager Open Source Analysis Global Security Operations Center and William Karnadi, manager Emergency management both responsible for developing NYU’s free mobile Campus Safety app, Safe NYU. Sean and William thank you so much for being here today to share the value of this app with our listeners. I understand William, that you were immersed in the development of this app for the New York City community both in Manhattan and Brooklyn and that you, Sean, you were responsible for the global development. Before we get into the features of the app, Sean, can you tell us how the efforts to develop this app came to fruition at NYU?
Sean Hackett [00:01:59] Yeah absolutely. So, it was a couple of years ago. So the thinking was everyone on the campus and in the community now has a cell phone. And so they already have that resource on students hands. It's a great way to get in touch with them and to share relevant information with them regarding safety and what to do around the campus and really around the world at this point. And so the idea is not to reinvent the wheel but to create an app that kind of cohesively pulls together everything relevant from a public safety perspective as well as from Wellness, Bias, Moses Center, to kind of consolidate all the information for students, let's make into a tool it's even more relevant, more powerful for them.
Karen Ortman [00:02:35] That just seems like such an overwhelming task to gather such a voluminous amount of information into one app.
Sean Hackett [00:02:46] Well so the company is “App Armor” so they have a dashboard that kind of gives you the rough architecture of how the app will look, and they kind of trained us up in how to incorporate things, they gave us some support, but a lot of it was just reaching out to other colleagues throughout the campus and different centers of Student Health Center, Wellness, et cetera, all of our various partners. And just slowly compiling the information and then building it into the app. So it was, it was definitely a good amount of work but I think we're pretty proud of the end result.
Karen Ortman [00:03:22] As you should be. It's so comprehensive and really addresses issues and concerns for anybody regardless of their geographical location.
Sabah Fatima It's really convenient too.
Karen Ortman [00:03:34] William, when was the app first introduced?
William Karnadi [00:03:37] So we first introduced the App in September 1st of 2017. So it's been about almost two years now. And when we first introduced the app. You know we didn't know how to market it to our students. The app, right? So over the years we learn from you know our- from the past and then we grab a couple of students saying, “hey, you know, how can we best communicate with you and tell you about this cool app and you know, they get back to us with a lot of recommendations in a couple of one liners. We call that QR codes. I'm getting old for QR codes by Bradley you know these QR codes now. So then we put QR codes and, yeah, you know we've been enjoying a steady rise in the number of downloads but at the same time, you know, hopefully our audience, now, you know, from the time this podcast begins they’ve checked out the Safe NYU app and begin downloading it. So by the time we meet in the middle of conversation they're checking out the app. But you know right now we have about 32 percent of our total population but we can always try for more and higher.
Karen Ortman [00:04:44] So 32 percent of our total population in New York or New York and globally?
Both: all over globally.
Karen Ortman [00:04:54] How do you anticipate reaching the rest of your audience.
William Karnadi [00:05:00] Multiple ways, I think, this podcast is being one of them, you know, getting our students to hear about why the app is important for them, why we created the app, you know, because we created this app not for us. Right, Public Safety. We created this app for our community, the community that we serve and we want to make sure the fact that whatever we're putting out there, it's beneficial to the community and that the fact that they know exists and then they download it, they use it because you know I'm from the military and and we we have this saying right “it's always good to have something and not need it, rather than need it and not have it,” because you want to want to have the app in your pocket, is ready to go just from you know, every time you turn on your phone it'll be updated with the latest information. So it's good to go as it’s in your pocket.
Karen Ortman [00:05:45] : Oh, so that’s good to know. And can you speak to the features that are relevant to New York City?
William Karnadi [00:05:51] Yes absolutely. So you know begins from the from the list of emergency contacts right. You start with 9 1 1. You can chat with public safety and you can also call to public safety. Right. So when you when hit those buttons it'll bring you to your phone's dialing page and you can dial those numbers.
Karen Ortman [00:06:09] So you're going. I see the Safe app in front of me. And I think you're going in the order in which the little squares…
William Karnadi: Right.
Karen Ortman: ...buttons are placed on the app.
William Karnadi: Right.
Karen Ortman: So the first one that I see is New York City emergency contacts.
William Karnadi: Yeah.
Karen Ortman: And that brings you 9 1 1.
William Karnadi: 9 1 1.
William Karnadi [00:06:29]: NYU public safety. You can chat with Public Safety if you're not comfortable. You know if you're in a situation where you can't call public safety and silence is required, right, you can use the chat feature
Karen Ortman [00:06:42] So you chat, and where does that conversation go?
William Karnadi [00:06:44] It goes to our 24/7 communication center in Brooklyn as well as the NYU Public Safety number, the 822222.
Karen Ortman [00:06:50] OK. So it happens in real time.
William Karnadi: Yes. Yeah.
Karen Ortman: OK. Anything else on the...
William Karnadi [00:06:56]: And lastly we also include you know the NYU Wellness Exchange because you know in case of emergency you know it was a mental health emergency or stuff like that, you can dial it, NYU Wellness Exchange, you know. The second feature in the next tile over is the the mobile blue light function and it's essentially, you've probably as students and faculty and staff you probably seen those emergency call boxes around NYU. Now we're just taking that concept and put it in your cell phone instead. Right, because you essentially, once you hit that button you can simultaneously share your location to our communications center in Brooklyn and then call them. So, quick scenario or you know, if you, you know studying late at Bobst and are walking home at night throughout the city of New York City and then you're not feeling safe, you can call our public safety. You know you can hit that button. So our public safety officer can see your location and then you can be in a conversation with them and they can guide you to the closest NYU building and they can talk to you and guide you to make sure that you're feeling safe right.
Karen Ortman [00:07:58] That’s right.
William Karnadi [00:07:59] If you're not comfortable in sharing a location with public safety officer, you can hit the next button which is the friend walk. It's the same feature essentially you can share your location with your friend in your contact list instead, right. So you can do that as well. Sean, feel free to jump in or whatever.
[00:08:17] So Sean will bring up the cool feature of the app. Essentially, long story short, it'll be the same layout that you see in the app. You can also apply globally and Sean will.
Karen Ortman [00:08:32]: Oh OK. So the next button would be “report an incident.”
William Karnadi: Right.
Karen Ortman: So that's whether we're at a global site or we're in New York.
William Karnadi [00:08:42]: Yes.
Karen Ortman: Anything additional, Sean, that we need to know about that?
Sean Hackett [00:08:46]: No. So reporting an incident that will send the incident again to the 24/7 communication center. So public safety to be aware of it. If you're overseas or in one of the academic centers you have an incident, they can take that information share it with whether it’s the site director or staff to better assist you, as well as public safety forms. You could also directly call the public safety again, 24/7, so you can speak to them whenever and they have access, all the relevant contacts at our various global enterprises.
Karen Ortman [00:09:16] OK. What about the next tile? Travel safe.
Sean Hackett [00:09:22] So travel safe. This is part of the really cool feature, so, not only do we have all these features for a New York City and locally but we also have for all of the academic centers, our two portal campuses and Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. So you can manually change your location. So if you're gonna study at NYU London for a semester, you can change the instance to NYU London and all those tiles will begin to change, the layouts the same, so you have the same overall functionality, the same look...
Karen Ortman: That’s really great.
Sean Hackett: But for example, I have a set to London right now. It'll say London emergency contacts and instead of nine one one you'll get nine nine nine. If you're in NYU Berlin you'll get one one two. It also change, so if rather than just the emergency number if you just want to call the police to make a report or if you do need to call fire, those numbers change as well.
Karen Ortman [00:10:09] :Everyone needs to have this.
Sean Hackett: Yeah I agree.
William Karnadi [00:10:12]: The thing is the division of global emergency numbers.
Sabah Fatima [00:10:15]: Yeah.
Karen Ortman: Anything else about the travel safe?
Sean Hackett [00:10:18]: Yeah. So there's a ton of resources there for students, staff, and faculty when they travel. So aside from NYU locally here in the city, or at our academic centers, it's also live over 190 countries. So if you travel to for example, I went to Brazil a few months ago. When you arrive overseas you open up the app, it's going to check your your location based on the nearest cell tower, it will identify you in a different part of the world. They'll ask you to confirm that country from a list and then again everything changes over. So you get the emergency contacts for Brazil, you get transportation tips for Brazil or for Ethiopia or wherever you need to travel. You can also do that manually through the travel safe button. There are buttons to connect you to the new and revamped NYU traveler. So it's easier than ever to register your trips.
Karen Ortman [00:11:10]: Explain what that is, NYU traveler.
Sean Hackett: So, NYU traveler is our database where we track all travel by the NYU community either for research or credit bearing trips. So usually for undergraduates, your faculty or travel administrators are doing that for you. But it's a service that's open to anyone in the NYU community. So even if you're traveling personally, all it does is it registers it so that if there is a disaster or an incident overseas, my team can look to see who we have registered there and we can reach out to you to make sure that you're safe to see if you need any assistance to see if you need to be evacuated or have a medical emergency. And so we just increased our records so we're better able to assist.
Karen Ortman: Another great resource.
Sean Hackett: And again you can hit that button and there's several ways now where you can register. And it's it's quick and easy. You also have travel safety questions. So that will send the report directly to my team. So if again you're traveling to say again for example, Ethiopia, if you have any questions about the trip at all, you can contact us and we're more than happy to help you to reach out, to provide whatever support we can resources, contacts, you know however we can be of assistance. And then there's some additional travel apps. So there's a link to the U.S. State Department to register with them. Again, it's another source of information. If the local embassy pushes an alert if you register with them they'll send that alert directly to your phone so you get a timely warning about protests, strikes, demonstrations, anything that might disrupt your day to day activities.
Karen Ortman [00:12:37]: Support resources?
[00:12:39] Yes. So again, support resources are roughly the same locally and globally, so locally: Wellness Exchange, Biased, Moses Center, Victim Services. Absolutely. That's a big one. And then again when you change your location overseas, so I'm still on the London incident, so I have your London report resources and those are additional resources available to students at that location and that will change as well. So the NYU Berlin instance are and where you Florence we have different resources for their students
William Karnadi: For New York City, essentially you got the shell in New York City pressing find the, you got the ones pressing the Wellness Exchange app, the Moses Center. Right,If you hit that crime victim button right you know if you want or request a Victim Liaison someone public safety will get back to you shortly to assist you with that.
Karen Ortman [00:13:28]: And I see getting around New York City as another tile. What does that tell us?
William Karnadi [00:13:32]: Essentially, we load all the information on transportation getting around NYU and running in New York City and right from the safe ride requests. This is like one of the popular feature of the app, our students use that a lot to commute late nights from to and from an NYU location. So you know you can be picked up from the you know, from the local restaurant but you got to be in the from the library or through him from your dorm. You get the NYU bus rides to see all the at the bus schedule and the routes, as well as MTA information. You know we’re set in an urban environment while students traveled from all over the place. So we have New Jersey Transit pad and Port Authority and we even have the ferry information because well one of our school has a ferry.
Sean Hackett [00:14:26]: Yeah, NYU Langone has a ferry.
Karen Ortman [00:14:29]: And I see emergency procedures.
William Karnadi: So that one is essentially an emergency procedure slash emergency response guide. Right? This is one of the things where you should read this prior to an actual emergency so you know what do you should do. Get yourself acclimated. Know we load all the hazards and threats that might be applicable to our environment here in New York City from you know, fire safety, evacuation procedures, hazmat incidents, active threat. Right. So we load all the procedures in there so it's good for for our community to go in there and get himself acclimated with the procedures. We also load the severe weather procedure for example right now for the rest of the week where we're in a pretty hot temperature, is expected to get like about 100 degrees. So we loaded some excessive heat information. What to do, know how to spot head injuries, how to find cooling centers if you're traveling all over New York City.
Karen Ortman [00:15:28]: So again that that translates globally as well.
William Karnadi [00:15:32]: Yes. So essentially, you know Abu Dhabi for example they experience sandstorm so, if you go to the Abu Dhabi's instance of the app you'll see an addition to the severe weather section which is a sandstorm and what to do during a sandstorm. Yes.
Sean Hackett [00:15:47]: And the same for other global locations as well. So you'll have tiles for altitude sickness. So if you're in Ethiopia, Nepal that's going to be an issue if you're not familiar with the you're not sure what to do at least you have a resource that will guide you steps to take proactively or if you're already in country what to do to handle the side effects.
Sabah Fatima [00:16:05]: Impressive.
Karen Ortman: Safety toolbox.
William Karnadi [00:16:12]: We go to locations the NYU campus map, the standard NYU campus map. If you know if you forgot where you're going and you need to find a quick way one of the many buildings, the NYU green light buildings so those buildings are manned 24/7 by a NYU public safety officer. So what in one of the scenarios like I mentioned earlier, about if you're not feeling safe at night you know you're walking on our campus. Use that tile, to that section to find the nearest NYU building staffed by a public safety officer. And yeah.
Karen Ortman [00:16:43]: And then at the bottom there's a rectangular shaped tile I guess it says “All About Preference”
William Karnadi: That one’s an option to the one thing that will tell you to use is the “choose NYU location” so that that's when you manually switch your look. So right now if you're playing around with the app, you can switch your location to the all the different NYU locations and you can see that there are resources.
Karen Ortman: Just to look?
William Karnadi: Yeah exactly.
Karen Ortman [00:17:13]: That's fun.
Karen Ortman [00:17:14]: OK. Anything else that you want to comment on regarding the tiles that are part of the app either as they relate to New York or globally.
[00:17:29] I would say just speaking globally one of the other nice features is the transportation tips. So we have just like we have MTA information, bus routes, et cetera for New York City, we have similar information for London. We've got the bus and Tube schedule for Berlin. And then when you travel overseas to a non academic center country, when you hit the button you'll get a kind of a list of recommendations regarding transportation. So each country that's within the app we've assessed on the overall level of safety in terms of using transportation i.e. can you just hail a taxi and jump in, should you avoid public transportation, should you avoid any transportation except for a private company you hire, a lot of that is based on reaching out to security professionals, the State Department, our own experiences when my team travels, and conduct site surveys or overseas kind of pulling best practices. Another great feature is we now have a travel check in button. So I mentioned before about registering your trip with NYU traveler. Some of the benefits of that: So if you're registered to travel in say for example NYU Paris you register your trip. But you're going to go for a long weekend to Brussels. You can actually hit that travel check in button and it's going to change your location to Brussels. So this way of again, God forbid there's a major incident, accident, an attack. We can look in travelers see that you're there we can reach out to you. Make sure that you're safe. Provide any assistance required and then you'll be register there for 48 hours. And the app will prompt, you asking you know are you still in this location. You just check in again. It'll update it again.
William Karnadi [00:19:06]: Hit the check-in button while you're in Brussels not in Paris.
Sabah Fatima [00:19:15]: Sean how can you ensure the accuracy of the information pertaining to our global campuses and our study away sites.
Sean Hackett [00:19:21]: Yeah absolutely. So a lot of it is just because we were working very closely with the academic centers. We're working with the staff there, with the site directors. They were providing direct input of the information that was going into the app. They were reviewing it before we went live with it. So we know that the information that's there, the local resources it's ones they use because they provided it to us and said we want these in the app we want students to have access to them. Another part of how we assess it is just again reached now to for example, U.S. State Department and the Overseas Security Advisory Council which is part of the State Department, can kind of a consortium of private sector institutions that mutually share security related information, work with them to see you know what are they saying what are they recommending what appears institutions are to be saying and then the other part is just our own direct experiences doing our own research and visiting some countries and locations and you know kind of doing our own firsthand assessments.
William Karnadi [00:20:15]: We also conduct an annual revision just doing quality assurance on the app itself. So for example this you know these past two weeks we've been with scrub through all the emergency numbers around the world and making sure that there are still the same right because some countries change, they become modernized or they, I guess, regress and they don't have an emergency number. So we will make sure annually we will go through the information and check it to see if it's still correct.
Sabah Fatima [00:20:41]: That's good to know. Yeah. Is there anything that the app does not do that you wish it did?
William Karnadi [00:20:49] I don't know about you, Sean, but I'm really happy with the way the app is performing, especially on the student-facing side of things. There are some things in the back row facing for our staff that we'd like to see them improve on but then again in our community will not see those changes but generally we've been really happy with the app.
Sean Hackett [00:21:11] Yeah I would have to agree. I think for me it's some more minor tweaks that I think only we would see on our end in terms of development. Like for example when you travel first the app will recognize you're in a different location, it will pull up a list of countries and you have to pick it. That's just because we're already pushing this app beyond what they've ever done before. We've really pushed out of their comfort zone. And so that was kind of their compromise. Next steps I would ideally like it so that if you're in Guatemala, once you arrive in Guatemala you open the app it'll say looks like you're in Guatemala. Can you confirm? And then it will just change. It just for the user it's a small thing but it's nice it takes out one extra step, you know.
Sabah Fatima [00:21:46] Yeah. It's much easier when just pops up. Where do you see the future of the app in terms of capabilities? Were there any additional features that you'd like to add to the app, right now.
William Karnadi [00:21:57] Right now we're thinking of a few things to add to the app. Essentially it's especially from a student-facing side of things where you know exploring whether the app can maybe you know display your pictures so then you know if you if you forgot your ID at home for example you can, you know, show your picture ID from the app. It's an idea.We still have to do some internal communications on it and make sure that the app can do that. But, you know, generally based on the the the mission of why we have the app it's hit all the bullet points that we ask of them so, we'll see. You know we'll we'll keep on thinking. But if any of you has any suggestions, please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us tell us what what what you want to see an app.
Karen Ortman [00:22:57] Great idea, put it out to the listeners who are benefiting from the app in the first place. Any suggestions send them to William and Sean.
Sabah Fatima [00:23:07] No. I love the idea of the ID, especially because people forget it all the time. Is there anything that you'd like to add to share with our listeners that we didn't discuss today?
Sean Hackett [00:23:23] I guess one thing I like to add, if you have any feedback about the app and its global features, or again if you just have a general question about travel, traveling to another country, any questions or uncertainties, you can email my team. You can do it through the app or you can just e-mail travel email@example.com.
Karen Ortman [00:23:40] Now you said they can email through the app. Where can they do that?
Sean Hackett [00:23:44] So that's going to be under the travel button.
Karen Ortman [00:23:47] The travel safe button?
Sean Hackett [00:23:52] Yes correct, so travel safe and then you'll see the little envelope icon. Travel safety questions and then just fill out that form and it goes directly to our team.
Karen Ortman [00:24:03] Perfect. OK.
Sabah Fatima [00:24:05] That's exciting stuff. Thank you Sean and William and to all of our listeners for joining us for today's episode of you matter
Karen Ortman [00:24:15] if any information presented today was triggering or disturbing please feel free to contact the wellness exchange at 212-443-9999. You can also get in touch with NYU’s Department of Public Safety and their victim services unit by calling 212-998-2222.
Sabah Fatima [00:24:30] For more podcasts like these you can find us by searching for you matter on Apple Podcasts or Google Play.