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Sunday, May 29, 2022

The BlueLight app for smartphones has come to UF.

Preet Anand, founder of BlueLight, said the need for the app came after he realized the Blue Light emergency phone system poles that litter campuses around the country weren’t enough to keep students feeling safe, as most incidents occur off campus.

“You tap your phone’s screen a few times and help is on the way,” he said. “Even if you don’t want to call the police, you can send your girlfriend or your roommate a message letting them know where you are.”

After installing the free app and selecting three emergency contacts, users input the name of their university, allowing the app to call the local police department whenever the user is in danger. Tapping “campus safety” in the app menu connects users to the police and transmits the phone’s GPS location, while hitting “alert contacts” sends a preset message to the user’s contacts with the same GPS information.

After brainstorming ideas and asking his female friends about convenient ways to stay safe, Anand settled on the idea of creating an app for smartphones. He said although many people might leave their wallets or keys at home, most are attached to their smartphones at all times.

“We wanted to create the quickest way for students to get help when they needed it,” he said.

Christina Bonarrigo, UF Student Body President and 22-year-old graduate business management student, started the initiative for a UF BlueLight app but was unaware that one was available. She said she is selecting from three prospects for a UF-centric app.

Daniel Winslow, a 19-year-old UF pre-pharmacy sophomore, said he’s always felt safe on campus, even when he’s walking home from classes at night.

Winslow said although the Blue Light poles scattered around campus are helpful to fearful students, they aren’t spaced well enough to truly keep a person safe.

“A lot of things could happen between the three or four poles I see around,” he said. “This app could be a good replacement.”

Sravga Kidambi, a 17-year-old UF telecommunication freshman, said because the app is free there’s no reason not to download it.

“I would think that someone would just call 911 if they’re in danger,” she said. “But I guess the app is a cooler way to do it.”

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A version of this story ran on page 1 on 9/13/2013 under the headline "BlueLight app offers UF students safety at night"

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