Safety at Your Fingertips: App Offers ‘Virtual Escort,’ Access to Resources

October 20, 2022
Person holding a cell phone

It’s fall, so the sun sets earlier across Grounds. The lonely walk home from a study session or sporting event might be in darkness. But with a quick swipe across your phone screen, your friends can virtually tag along to see you home safely.

That “virtual escort” is through an app called Rave Guardian. University Police are urging everyone with a UVA ID – students, faculty and staff – to consider downloading the free app to their smartphones.

Sgt. Ben Rexroad headshot

Sgt. Ben Rexrode, the crime prevention coordinator of the University Police Department, said the application has a “virtual escort” feature. (Contributed photo)

“If you are going to be walking from the library back to your dorm at a certain time of night, by yourself or with one other person, you can preselect people that it will send a ping to who will essentially virtually escort you and track where you are along the preset route,” Sgt. Ben Rexrode, the crime prevention coordinator of the University Police Department, said. “They can be alerted to contact police in case something happens.

“It is the best one-stop shop for safety on your phone.”

The app also features links to resources like the Women’s Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Dean of Students’ office and the Blue Ridge Poison Control Center. Another important feature is the ability to text concerns, tips and observations to the University Police.

“Students and community members are sometimes hesitant to pick up the telephone and call police,” Rexrode said. “That can be intimidating. This gives them another avenue where they can communicate with us.”

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Rexrode said part of the value of the system is its simplicity.

“It is not overly fancy,” Rexrode said. “If someone is going through this in need of assistance, you don’t want to make it complicated. Somebody could be in a certain level of crisis where they don’t need to search around and they need easy function. … How to get a resource, how to communicate, where to turn.

“Everything regarding safety is right at your fingertips when you need it, ready and accessible,” he said.

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications