Making Campuses Safer With Smartphones

Many campuses are developing apps to better improve the security of the students so that they wouldn’t have to rely solely on the blue light phones in fixed locations on campus, and will be able to use the communication and geo location features their smartphones have.

In response to a survey done by students at the Rochester Institute of Technology it was being said that they weren’t using technology to its fullest potential. Tony Yazback, a public safety investigator at RIT, met with Eric Irish who developed an app which was “user friendly” for students and staff. The app is known as TigerSafe.

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There are three main functions to the app:

  • Inform: Displays tips and safety phone numbers
  • Report: Share GPS location through Google Maps and lets user call for help with noise complaints, escorts, lockouts, jump-starts, etc.
  • Assist: Communicate user’s location and contact details and dials into public safety personnel to continue conversation via phone or text

A student who had a seizure as well as a blind student who got lost were both able to use TigerSafe to get back to safety with the help of public safety personnel. Yazback is making sure that this app is advertised well throughout the campus by putting posters everywhere.

The University of Florida have has also been using a campus safety app called TapShield developed by a former student. The app has not yet been used for real emergency situations but has worked well in tests. The app also has a feature called “Yank” where it will send an alert when it senses that headphones have been pulled away forcibly from the smartphone. Unfortunately TapShield didn’t receive enough contracts with other campuses to keep the business going.

Northwest Missouri State University uses an app called CrisisManager that features information for what to do in the case of a fire, severe weather, evacuation or workplace violence. Emergency management coordinator Lt. Mike Ceperly stressed, however, that it was important that users familiarize themselves with the information of the app before an actual emergency occurs. Users would not want have to deal with navigating and finding info from the app in the middle of a crisis.

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