Safety & Security | News

Rochester Institute of Tech Adopts Student-Created Blue Light Safety App

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has adopted a new safety app developed by students at the New York school. TigerSafe, as it's branded on campus, works like a "virtual blue light security phone." The free app allows members of the campus community to connect immediately with public safety officers in the event of an emergency or other situation.

The mobile app is a service developed by CampusSafe, a company launched by RIT MBA student Eric Irish. Versions work on Apple iOS and Google Android. As Irish explained in an RIT video, the app provides a "blue light in your pocket. If you're in some real trouble, you can hold down this emergency button. It's going to send a report and put you directly in contact with public safety."

Because the Institute has a large deaf and hard of hearing population, Irish said, the user can choose to call or text after pressing the blue light. GPS tracking enables public safety dispatchers to pinpoint the location of the caller.

The app has three major functions:

  • Inform displays public safety and other phone numbers and safety tips;
  • Report shares the user’s GPS location and lets them call for help with jumpstarts, noise complaints, escorts and lockouts; and
  • Assist provides the blue light button, which communicates the user’s location, contact details and related information. After pressing the button, the user is dialed into public safety personnel to continue the conversation via phone or text message.

"Public Safety is here as a service for the RIT community, and with this new app we hope to make ourselves more convenient and accessible to contact," said Chris Denninger, director of RIT Public Safety.

The idea for the app came when Irish began working with a public safety investigator on ways to modernize the office's use of technology. The concept for the app won a 2011 Shark Tank competition at the school. Two years later an RIT fourth-year computer science student was brought into the start-up to "scale the app" and ready it for commercial release.

"RIT is the first university to purchase the app and we already have several other colleges interested," said Irish, who earned an IT degree from RIT in 2012. "We plan to individualize the app for each campus and to continue adding features as new ideas develop."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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