CriticalArc: Supporting duty of care on campuses


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In this case study focus, ISJ takes a closer look at a collaboration among Scotland universities that is delivering on-demand safety and support at the touch of a button.

Launched in April 2024, the SafeZone Alliance for Scotland aims to boost safety for students whether they are working remotely, traveling or visiting different campuses.

SafeZone – provided by CriticalArc – is the unified safety, security and emergency management solution capable of helping organisations keep people safe and respond effectively to critical incidents.

The new SafeZone Alliance for Scotland initiative involves several universities, including Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Glasgow, the University of Dundee and the University of Stirling.

The partnership draws inspiration from a successful similar program in Manchester, which is now in its second year.

The SafeZone Alliance Scotland enables students and staff from participating universities to utilise services from the nearest and most suitable institution, depending on their current location and needs.

This comprehensive support network offers emergency assistance, mental health support, crime prevention advice and general guidance, ensuring that anyone feeling vulnerable or having specific safety concerns can receive prompt help and reassurance, regardless of the situation.

“Our collective duty of care is not restricted to our individual campuses and by being part of the alliance, working collaboratively we can provide significantly better safeguarding,” said Gary Stephen, Head of Security & Logistics, University of Glasgow.

“It means that at the touch of a button we can support any student or staff member not only over the phone but by having a fully trained security professional on the scene in minutes to reassure and take control of any incident.”

SafeZone Alliance

Life at university can be a significant transition for many students, particularly those living away from home for the first time.

While the environment is designed to be welcoming and supportive, the shift can still bring about feelings of pressure and vulnerability.

The independence that comes with university life, though enriching, often comes with its own set of challenges, including academic demands, social pressure and the need to manage personal responsibilities.

Additionally, for many students, adjusting to life in a larger town or city may introduce elements of danger or concern that they may not have encountered before.

Universities recognise challenges and strive to mitigate them through extensive support networks and by investing in initiatives, such as the SafeZone Alliance for Scotland.

Under the protocol, when an individual seeks assistance or faces an emergency, the team closest to their location can respond.

The unified approach prioritises the safety and wellbeing of all community members, ensuring that consistent assistance is accessible regardless of their location.

According to Darren Chalmers-Stevens, CriticalArc’s Chief Operating Officer, the Scotland, Manchester and other Alliance members plan to collaborate further, thereby expanding the support and safety services to over a million individual users. This opens the door to future partnerships.

“The Manchester SafeZone Alliance has proved to be a huge success, and now Scotland’s leading universities have come together to create the first nation-wide safety and support umbrella for students and staff,” said Chalmers-Stevens.

“As the Alliance concept spreads further, students will increasingly benefit from rapid assistance not just at their own universities, but whenever they are travelling and working remotely.”

“Our top priority”

“The SafeZone Alliance concept takes our universities into a higher league in supporting our duty of care,” said Les Allan, Director of SafeGuarding Services, Heriot-Watt University.

“For universities across Scotland, our capacity to support our communities is now multiplied even further with our collaborative use of SafeZone.”

“We are proud to partner in this new Alliance and to provide an extra layer of care to staff and students not only from this university but from other institutions across the country,” added Professor Malcolm Chrisp, Deputy Principal, Education and Student Life at Heriot-Watt.

“The Alliance allows us to extend our reach to ensure assistance is made available quickly and easily, whenever it’s needed.” 

CriticalArc’s SafeZone technology is now used by more than half of UK universities, as well as NHS Trusts, to improve safety and wellbeing support for thousands of students and staff.

Among the technology’s many capabilities and benefits, it enables users with the SafeZone phone app, or a dedicated personal alarm, to request immediate assistance for themselves and others.

Alison Morrison, Head of Safety, Environment and Continuity at the University of Stirling concluded: “The wellbeing of our students and staff is our top priority and we welcome the introduction of SafeZone Alliance to expand the network of safe spaces for our community.

“We’ve already received positive feedback on how easy SafeZone is to use and how it has provided staff and students with reassurance and access to services. With that in mind, it’s great to know this vital support is available beyond the University of Stirling campus.”


CriticalArc is a SaaS-based provider committed to transforming incident response through innovative solutions.

These solutions empower safety and security teams with the intelligence to strengthen and streamline their response to threats and incidents.

Founded in Australia in 2011, CriticalArc’s leadership recognised an over-reliance on fixed, costly security systems and saw an opportunity to leverage the ubiquity of smartphones and the performance of cloud networks with enterprise grade software.

As a result, CriticalArc combined its deep understanding of security systems with a passion for quality software and a commitment to customers to develop its distributed command and control software, service, SafeZone, which empowers organisations most important resource – people.

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