FARGO - North Dakota State University is launching a new campus safety service that includes a smartphone application.

With the app Pathlight, students--or faculty and staff--can ask university police to "follow" them as they travel from one area to another, for example across campus at night, the university said in a news release.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The app has GPS capabilities so dispatchers know where to go if a student doesn't reach his or her destination in a time frame the student sets. Police also know who to look for when they respond because the app ties in with other university systems and can pull up a student's photo, the release said.

"What we're doing is providing this new resource so that all of our students, staff and faculty, can go out and download and use this application to maintain their safety," said Michael Borr, director of university police, in a video news release.

In addition to sending an alarm when students don't reach their destinations, the app provides a way for students to alert police when they don't feel safe, the release said. If a student feels threatened, he or she can call police with the swipe of a finger.

"The only person more excited about this app than me is my mom, because now she knows I have yet another tool to stay safe on campus," Student Body President Sarah Russell said in the video.

NDSU has offered a police escort service since 1992. Students used that increasingly after a Dec. 20 attack when a man held three international students at knifepoint and raped two of them in an apartment just off campus, according to court papers. Between that attack and mid-March, university police provided 76 escorts, compared to just five in the same period last year.

Only those who enable the Pathlight app will be tracked by police, and users can disable tracking at any time, the release said.

For more information about the new service, visit www.ndsu.edu/besafe.