Twice in one day, someone went to Jenn Nguyen's front door and tried to open it.
The Lehigh University senior keeps the front door of her off-campus apartment locked, so no one got in. But she was alarmed enough to call Bethlehem and Lehigh police about the incidents.
So when Nguyen heard that Lehigh University was launching EmergenSee — a mobile app that acts as a personal security system — she was relieved.
"I think it's a really good idea," she said. "It'll keep kids safe."
The EmergenSee is an app for iPhone and Android phones that can record video and audio, linking a student directly to Lehigh University Police Department dispatchers in an emergency.
If, for example, a student is walking across campus late at night and believes she's being followed, she can open the app on her phone and be in direct communication with campus authorities.
EmergenSee's coverage area include the Asa Packer Campus, Mountaintop Campus, Goodman Campus and the surrounding neighborhoods where many students live, according to a news release.
Lehigh already uses the LU-Alert system, which sends mass texts and emails when something occurs on campus. Many colleges installed systems like that after a student shot and killed 32 people on campus at Virginia Tech in 2007.
On Monday, move-in day for new students, Lehigh University police Chief Ed Shupp took the opportunity to explain the technology to incoming freshmen and their parents and encourage them to sign up for the free service.
"EmergenSee is another tool to enhance safety," Shupp said.
The system also has a GPS locater that allows dispatchers to know the sender's exact location. Users can text dispatchers if they don't want to talk.
EmergenSee instructs users to pick a "safe word" when registering. That way, if an attacker takes a victim's phone and tries to cancel help, dispatchers will ask the mobile user what the safe word is.
The app was developed in 2012 by EmergenSee, a company with offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. About 30 colleges, including Georgetown University, offer the service. Government agencies and hospitals also have contracted with EmergenSee, according to its website.
Shupp said there was no particular incident that led to the decision to offer the app. The news release mentions that interim President Kevin Clayton sent a letter in April to faculty and staff about the service.
But this year, Bethlehem police have investigated a number of high-profile incidents on and off campus.
• In May, police said an unidentified woman awoke to find a man standing above her. Police said when the woman screamed, the man fled the student's Montclair Avenue apartment. He took the student's purse and a small amount of cash, police said.
• Last month, a 17-year-old Bethlehem boy was charged with the attempted rape and murder of a Lehigh University student after police said he sneaked into her off-campus apartment.
Bryan Sanchez-Osorio was charged as an adult in the July 16 attack in which police said he choked and smothered the student with a pillow until she was unconscious and her face turned blue. The attack was thwarted when the student's roommates heard her screams and called police.
Sanchez-Osorio is awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder, attempted rape, aggravated assault and burglary. He remains in Northampton County Prison under $100,000 bail.
• On Friday night, police said a Lehigh student was robbed as she walked on campus. Police said Shadira Clarke, 20, of Bethlehem and her boyfriend, Kyle S. Bracey, 21, of New York, robbed the female student on Asa Drive. Police said Bracey grabbed her by the arm and demanded she surrender her purse and cellphone. Clarke and Bracey were arrested a short time later, police said. Both remain in Northampton County Prison; Bracey under $15,000 bail and Clarke under $10,000 bail.
Lehigh freshman Katlyn Trzaska heard about some of those cases this summer, and said she was a little concerned about starting school. When she heard about EmergenSee, she said it eased any fears she had.
Trzaska plans to download EmergenSee soon to her phone. She said some of her friends have already done so.
"You don't want to come back from the library at 2 in the morning and worry about every shadow," she said.
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