SafeU Initiatives Promote Public Safety on Campus


Cyan Larson

(Graphic by Cyan Larson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Devin Oldroyd, News Writer


From maps to COVID-19 guidelines, a person cannot walk five minutes on the U’s campus without seeing them: paper and cardboard signs are posted nearly everywhere, and now they have taken a step into the digital age.

Digital signs made their debut on the University of Utah campus on July 1.

“The purpose of the signs is [to convey] information and wayfinding around campus in an interactive way that can be updated,” said University of Utah Safety Department’s interim director of emergency management, Stuart Moffatt.

As both foot traffic and vehicle traffic increase on campus with the upcoming fall semester, the digital signs give information on campus news, upcoming events and directions. Along with this, the signs have a particular focus on public safety, as they relay safety tips, information and updates, such as current COVID-19 guidelines.

“These signs can change according to circumstances [and situations],” Moffatt said. “One of those circumstances or situations would be in the case where [SafeU] issues a campus alert.”

According to Moffatt, in situations such as this one, the signs will be used to get the alert out quickly and effectively, in addition to sending text messages, emails and updating SafeU’s social media accounts.

“The [digital signs] are just another arrow in our quiver that helps [SafeU] get a message to you,” Moffatt said. “Maybe you are not signed up for campus alert, or maybe your phone is in your bag and you did not hear when you [got] the alert. The signs can be another way that we can get in touch with you. It’s [about contacting] you in as many ways as possible.”

When not in use for safety purposes, digital signs can be used for advertising.

“When there is no crisis going on, we can make the campus aware of campaigns, promotions, events and fairs that are related to safety,” Moffatt said. “It is a little bit of marketing.”

There are four different types of digital signs being installed around campus: wall mounted wayfinding, vehicular monuments, wayfinding/pedestrian monuments and indoor screens.

“There are a number of larger signs outside of campus that are easy to see from a vehicle or a pedestrian outside of campus,” Moffatt said. “Then there are a number of signs inside of campus, as well as smaller, kind of, sidewalk-sized signs.”

These signs aim to promote public safety, but they are also meant to be more sustainable and time-efficient.

“Paper and cardboard take time to print and to put out on campus,” Moffatt said. “There is a recognition that if we are trying to be sustainable and timely, then we can [move to] a digital [platform].”

These new signs are only one way that the University Safety Department is working to improve safety on campus.

“The new digital signs are one of many channels we have available to promote safety,” said University Safety Department’s director of administration, Annalisa Purser. “This fall, we have several initiatives, including having the first cohort of SafeU Ambassadors working with us. This is a year-long, paid leadership program focused on including students in campus safety-related projects. We are also working to launch a new mobile safety app for our community.”

Along with this, the University Safety Department has begun a program called 16/12 Student Preparedness. This program promotes that students be emergency ready at any time by carrying around a safety kit. They instruct that in this kit should be: 16 ounces of water, 1200 calories (such as 3 protein bars), medication, a flashlight, a whistle and a phone charger.

On the 16/12 Student Preparedness web page students have the option of purchasing a kit or following their free-to-view crafting instructions.

“Because we are in a little bit of a heat crisis right now, I would encourage people to continually carry 16 ounces of water with them. If you get stuck some place, you are going to need it,” Moffat said.

SafeU also encourages students to download the U Heads Up! app, which provides a variety of safety information and allows anyone to share their safety concerns regarding the U’s campus and community.

The app has three different plans: emergency response guide, see something, say something and campus alert – push notification. It is available to students and campus visitors alike.

Additionally, SafeU promotes that all U students get tested for COVID-19 and get vaccinated.

“Be a part of the safety solution instead of the safety problem,” Moffatt said. “If we are talking about safety for the fall, I would encourage [COVID-19] vaccinations. Get your vaccine and get tested.”

More information can be found online at SafeU’s website.


[email protected]



This article was updated on Oct. 1 to clarify that “SafeU” is a campaign within the University of Utah Safety Department rather than a separate entity.