September 23, 2019 | 75° F

App maps out campus danger zones

Photo by Jennifer Kong |

Students pinpoint potentially dangerous areas of the College Avenue campus last night during an “R U?Safe?” event blending statistical data and students’ perceptions to determine where they felt vulnerable to crime on campus.

Participants in the crime prevention event “R U Safe?” created a map of the College Avenue campus last night, highlighting areas most prone to crime using a smartphone application called “Mobile Mappler.”

Designed by Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy lecturer Wansoo Im, the app allows users to select areas where they feel vulnerable to crime, said Jerilyn Krakower, coordinator of “R U Safe?”

The application pinpoints these at-risk areas on a Google Earth template available online as a resource to help maximize safety, said Krakower, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Krakower, who is in Im’s “Geographic Information Systems in Health and Planning” class, said the mobile app informs users how dangerous an area is with statistical data on crimes.

“What we’re doing basically is going around campus and putting data in variables onto a smartphone,” she said. “[We are] making a list of perceived vulnerability to crime.”

Variables — such as lighting, amount of police patrol and suspicious-looking people — could help police in their patrolling, Krakower said.

“GIS creates interactive maps which give you a sense of demographics and different kinds of statistics projected onto a map,” she said.

“R U Safe?” blends statistics on dangerous areas from previous criminal activity with students’ intuitive sense of danger, Krakower said.

Im said he hoped the event made students more aware of their surroundings.

“One thing they did was actually assess what was happening. Students can learn about the safety because they’re actually doing the survey,” he said.

Participants recorded data on the application and rated their perception of danger from one to five, Im said. They also filled out a survey after the event.

The project only focuses on dangerous areas on the College Avenue campus as of now. But Kristen Clarke, student representative to the Board of Governors and a participant, said she hopes it would expand to other areas.

“In regards to the overall project, I think it’s a good idea and would be really cool to expand this and actually do it on all five campuses, as well as a larger area of the student [neighborhoods] — all of Ward six, most of Wards five and two in [New Brunswick],” she said in the survey.

Clarke, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said this information should be accessible to security services around campus.

“This data should not only be advertised but given to the University administrators like [vice president] for Student Affairs, [Department of Transportation Services], RUPD, maybe even Facilities if it’s concerning the lighting,” she said.

Melissa Gotanco, a student in Im’s class who is completing a final project based on information about lighting in crime-prone areas, said the event heightened her awareness.

“It was fun to see the campus differently. I was more aware of dangerous areas,” said Gotanco, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, in the survey.

Volunteers at the event were mostly students from Im’s class, but also included students in different areas of public planning such as health, research and activism, said Usman Khan, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

“It was good to see the community getting involved with security issues,” Khan said. “People overlook the importance of these issues.”

Volunteer Saba Khan, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said she was concerned with the event’s organization.

“My main concern was the organization of the actual process,” Saba Khan said in the survey. “I ran into some students from different groups and zones, and I felt that the project could have maximized the results if students were distributed evenly.”

By Matthew Matilsky

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