New Wildfire app sparks interest among students
Wildfire is an application in which students can get alerts about major crimes or events happening at the University of Arizona. The Wildfire app sends relevant notifications to your phone and shows community posts on the home feature.
The app has users at over 100 college campuses across the country, according to Hriday Kemburu, CEO and cofounder of Wildfire. The app also has over 3,000 reviews, on the Apple App Store. The purpose of Wildfire is to spread awareness; the app allows you to post about just about anything, including chatter, safety and events going on in the community.
According Wildfire’s website, the community guidelines explain that users should be mindful when posting. “It is also important to remember that something that may be disturbing to you may not violate our community guidelines. Notifications are sent out based on their relevance and pertinence to the immediate, surrounding community.”
The community guidelines also warn not to post inappropriate content, such as violent threats or harassment.
“Wildfire believes in freedom of speech and expression, but in order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice,” the guidelines read.
Wildfire gives users the option to report a post, which then gets reviewed. Wildfire reassure its users that what is marked as an alert is accurate, saying, “We have a moderation team that works to verify content posted on Wildfire before it [is] sent out as an alert. Our goal is to build safer, more informed communities focused on spreading useful, factual, and timely information.”
Jesus Aguilar is a University of Arizona Police Department Officer in the Crime Prevention/Public Information unit.
“Be careful with the information you’re giving out and avoid giving personal information,” Aguilar cautions.
Aguilar said that the app may be tracking your information. Neither Aguilar nor other UAPD officers had heard about the app.
According to Aguilar, Wildfire is not an app UAPD has recommended; there’s no training on it. Aguilar claims the major communication alert source at the UA is the UAlert program and the official app is LiveSafe.
Aguilar strongly advises students to report an incident to UAPD, not just post it on Wildfire, to ensure the situation will be addressed. Wildfire’s community guidelines urge users to call 911 if urgent circumstances occur before posting about it on Wildfire.
Undergraduate pre-public health student Mapendo Katotola sees nothing negative about the app and finds Wildfire useful. Katotola says she’s used the app for two weeks.
“I get to know stuff that’s going on [on] campus. There’s nothing I don’t like about it; it lets me know about what’s going on because I’m a new student and I don’t know that much about the campus,” Katotola said. “If something happened somewhere else, I can take a video or picture and try to inform others. Be careful about this.”
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