Check-in Safe Abroad

• Lauren Montague
• Harry Bastermajian 
• Carol Ann Litster 
• Sarah Stoll 

Project Overview:
The team at CMES is seeking to correct the challenge of supporting Harvard international scholarly travel during this time of global uncertainty, by finding ways to rapidly and effectively communicate with travelers in a crisis. Many scholars have interdisciplinary involvement with research and have multiple “homes,” making the responsibility center for their safety unclear. A more efficient way to respond to an emergency abroad that would notify multiple administrators simultaneously and automatically when travelers check in is needed, allowing the safety professionals at Harvard Global Support to concentrate their efforts in finding those that had not yet checked in.

Project Objectives:
We propose to pilot the “I’m Safe Abroad” application for smartphones, designed by a group of security experts who realized the limitations of conventional email/phone call methods in conducting emergency evacuations. The application “I'm Safe Abroad” allows travelers to check in and indicate if they are safe or need assistance, and records the individual’s GPS location. This information on all travelers is ported directly to a web based dashboard where all authorized users can check on the status simultaneously, eliminating the need for overlapping emails, confusion, lost time and duplicated effort by multiple sponsoring centers and departments.

Expected Outcomes:
Implementing the use of the “I’m Safe Abroad” application for smart phones in our Harvard community for scholars who are traveling and researching abroad, will result in more effective and efficient communication, saving time and potentially lives as we assess the possible needs during a time of crisis. This is not a desire for International Centers to take over ultimate responsibility for safety, it is simply a way to more efficiently collect and report data to Harvard Global Support Services and other Harvard leaders in real time.

Expected Impact:
CMES will take the lead in a collaboration representing Harvard International Area Studies Centers and Museums. Once piloted at CMES this year, it is hoped that the program will be offered to others at Harvard by FY18. Throughout the implementation of the end product, regular meetings will be held with the International Safety Team at Harvard Global Support Services, which leverages and complements their own efforts to improve safety response protocols at Harvard. This streamlined approach will allow the multiple partners who support international scholarly research to quickly know the safety status of their scholars, and attend to those who are in need of assistance.