The SDSU International Safety Unit (ISU) within International Affairs supports all travelers’ safety, security, and risk management during their journeys abroad. We advise on matters of risk assessment and mitigation, emergency response, and trip preparation so that university constituents traveling for global research, learning, collaboration, and engagement can do so with confidence and self-awareness. ISU works closely with the SDSU Business & Financial Affairs’ Risk Management program to oversee all SDSU Foreign Travel, to include the CSU Foreign Travel Insurance Program (FTIP) for faculty, staff, employees and student employees traveling to international destinations for university-related business, programs, or activities associated with their employment and students studying abroad.
Check the travel advisories, country reports and medical risk ratings of your destination. It is important that you understand at all times (pre-trip planning and while abroad) your itinerary's risks, to include natural disasters, civil unrest, crime, etc. in the country, state, city, and neighborhoods you plan to visit, in order to appropriately mitigate these risks. Certain high-risk activities and sports may be excluded from your foreign travel insurance coverage. Refer to the risk mitigation resources listed below.
Depending on the emergency situation, know how to call the country’s local equivalent of “9-1-1” for immediate first responder assistance and know how to ask for help in that country’s language. When it is then safe to do so, contact your foreign travel insurance policy’s emergency assistance provider (i.e., On Call International vs. AXA Assistance) listed on the plan ID card that is provided to you upon insurance enrollment. Regardless of which foreign travel insurance you have, the associated international emergency assistance provider is not a first responder. Have a plan to keep in touch with your family, friends, and emergency contacts by always carrying a cell phone with international service, locating the nearest landline phone, and researching the availability of alternative communication methods if the country’s cellular or Internet infrastructure becomes unavailable. Refer to this link for additional information regarding emergency support.
Foreign Travel Safety, Security, and Risk Mitigation Resources
Listed below are several internal and external foreign travel risk mitigation resources and services available to you for pre-trip, in-country, and post-trip planning. If you have a non-emergency question about how to implement international safety, security and risk countermeasures, contact the SDSU International Safety Unit at +1 619-594-6402 (8:00 am to 4:30 pm PST) or [email protected].
I. Foreign Travel Insurance and 24/7 Emergency Assistance Provider
On Call International is the SDSU Travel Abroad Insurance and 24/7 emergency assistance provider with an international network of medical and security professionals available any time to assist travelers. They can offer advice, connect travelers with resources, and work with travelers to make sure they receive the care and support they need both before and during University-sponsored international travel. On Call is also the claims administrator for all benefits that correlate with their services and all services and benefits are administered by On Call.
On Call is NOT a first responder. If you need immediate help from police or getting to a medical facility, dial the country’s equivalent of 9-1-1 to get local response. The plan ID card and program summary with the below-listed 24/7 emergency contact information is provided to the student upon their enrollment in the On Call insurance. If you need medical, security or travel assistance, regardless of the nature or severity of your situation, contact On Call and reference SDSU Policy Number INT06899:
+1 603-328-1344 (Call collect from anywhere in the world).
1-855-464-8975 (Call toll free from US or Canada).
Orientation videos for students (link) and faculty/staff (link).
AXA Assistance is the California State University Risk Management Authority (CSURMA) Foreign Travel Insurance Program’s (FTIP) emergency assistance provider that partners with Chubb Insurance, the insurance carrier for CSURMA FTIP. Chubb (FTIP) insurance is required for all SDSU faculty, staff, employees, and student employees traveling abroad to conduct university business as part of their employment.
SDSU is providing the AlertTraveler mobile app to help keep you safe during your international travels. This system will keep you informed of critical events that may impact you while abroad and will allow SDSU risk management administrators to better assist you in the event of an emergency. Through this app, you will be able to see nearby travel alerts, communicate with SDSU risk management administrators, and have access to worldwide travel risk intelligence.
Please download and activate (register) the AlertTraveler app on your mobile device. AlertTraveler is available in the App Store and GooglePlay. After downloading the app, go to your user PROFILE to obtain your unique mobile app password. You will only have to log in once within the mobile app. In addition, be sure to enable location services and notifications on your device settings.
Below you will find resources and video guides on how to use the app:
International Travel Homepage link here. Individuals can access international travel-related resources from this page, including:
Travel Advisories and Warnings: As a first step in planning any trip abroad, check the Travel Advisories for your intended destination. Note that conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time.
Country Information: This page offers individuals considering international travel information about the safety and security situation in a specific country, including entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, etc.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): This program is a free service that allows travelers to provide their travel information to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to help them locate the traveler in an emergency. Travelers, and future travelers, can also sign up to receive safety and security information via email regarding specific destinations abroad.
Traveler’s Checklist: Steps to take before traveling abroad are provided in this checklist, including reading country information, getting the right documents, enrolling in STEP, and having international travel insurance.
Student login to the On Call International "Destination Intelligence" portal requires input of SDSU Group ID 100126CPPD21 , which is also referenced on the international emergency card that is provided upon SDSU Travel Abroad Insurance registration.
This dedicated travel portal offers personalized intelligence for the lifecycle of your trip. You will have access to real-time destination-based tips and alerts, country and city risk analysis, an international medical network and more. Link here.
The following tools and techniques may provide ‘on-the-ground’ insights:
Reddit. Most cities have a dedicated Reddit forum, called a ‘subreddit’. During emergencies, Reddit users often report breaking news faster than traditional media outlets and these posts are often accompanied by photos, videos, and other commentaries.
Google Trends. Allows users to see common search queries in a given region that can uncover facts on the ground that may not be made public through news articles or social media posts.
Snap Map. Allows users to share geolocated content and serves as a way to get a sense of what’s going on in a particular place or learn more about unfolding events.
Newspaper Map. free online application that plots the location of over 10,000 newspapers worldwide. Use this tool to identify local media outlets in unfamiliar areas.
ASIRT is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that promotes road travel safety through education and advocacy (link).
Provides basic intelligence on the history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, environment, communications, transportation, military, terrorism, and transnational issues for 266 world entities (link).
Local EMS organizations (i.e., police and fire departments) have social media accounts. Travelers should follow these pages or feeds that report local events hours before stories reach mainstream media outlets.
Provides real-time flight data on thousands of aircraft worldwide and can assist with monitoring the impact of weather events on global transportation (link).
Presents important on-the-ground events and plots them on a map interface, so users can go back and review incidents that happened in the past (link).
GDACS is a cooperation framework between the United Nations, the European Commission and disaster managers worldwide to improve alerts, information exchange and coordination in the first phase after major sudden-onset disasters (link).
This site provides updated Baja, California information, to include road conditions, weather, and a city/region guide (link).
Provides safety and security data on popular destinations worldwide (link).
Numbeo site’s crime section reviews informal surveys provided by residents as to how they perceive the risk of theft, violence, and corruption in their city.
VII. Institutes of Higher Education (IHE)
Preparing for Study Abroad Emergencies for Higher Ed and K-12 Populations Webinar. The REMS TA Center, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Healthy Students, hosted a Webinar on how institutions of higher education and K-12 schools—both public and nonpublic—can better plan and prepare for emergencies that students and staff may encounter when studying abroad. Presenters described the process for addressing emergencies abroad in planning efforts, shared case studies, and highlighted resources and support available when preparing for these incidents.