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Navy tests out phone app to prevent sexual assault

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The US Navy is testing the effectiveness of a smartphone app in an attempt to curb military sexual assaults.

The app, LiveSafe, is designed to “help sailors with prevention by providing a one-stop shop for all of their needs,” Navy Capt. Charles Marks said in a press release. Marks said the app includes a temporary location-sharing feature, as well as information on emergency services and support centers.

Sailors and their families on two military bases — Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Rota, Spain — are testing the features of the free app during a six-month trial period that began in October “prior to its Navywide launch,” according to the Navy press release.

“The app, which launched in both the Apple and Android platforms, will be available to 44,500 sailors; we want the fleet to test-drive the app and provide needed feedback,” Marks said in the press release.

The number of reported cases of sexual assault dropped in 2015, according to a Defense Department report; however, the reporting rate remained the same because the size of the military also decreased.

Sexual assault has dogged the US military for years, which led to the creation of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office in 2005. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, has sought to remove the military chain of command in sexual assault cases after Pentagon reports found high levels of retaliation for those reporting sexual assault, but her proposal has failed to gain traction in the Senate.

In 2015, the military received 6,083 reports of sexual assault, according to the Defense Department’s annual report on sexual assault.

The app was founded by Kristina Anderson, one of the survivors of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, along with Shy Pahlevani, who was part of a violent robbery, according to LiveSafe’s website, and is designed to use “crowdsourced intelligence to engage the community to help prevent incidents and improve overall safety.”