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NY College Hands Out Free Personal Safety Devices

A New York college system is trying out a "personal safety" device, which it handed out to 1,400 students as they arrived on campuses this fall. The Sage Colleges struck an agreement with Peace of Mind Company (POMCO) to make its new "POM" available for free. The POM is a keychain-sized device that promises faster response in an emergency by allowing the student to push a button to get campus safety help.

To set up the device, it's synced with the student's smart phone through Bluetooth and the student must create an account. The device connects the user with campus security through a two-way call function and records the call. Location tracking identifies the user's location and pulls up a profile that may include a photo and personal information. When the call is over, the student hangs up through the phone.

The device can also activate an alarm function by tapping it three times; doing so is a separate operation that won't contact campus safety.

The POM needs recharging through a micro-USB plug every 10 to 14 days. When the charge drops below a certain level, the POM goes into sleep mode to preserve the battery so that it can still make an emergency call.

The company hopes to entice other campuses to adopt the technology by allowing it to be branded with school colors and an image of a mascot or logo.

"Students appreciated Sage making this investment on their behalf, and many said they plan to carry the device at all times," said Trish Cellemme, Sage's vice president for student life, in a prepared statement.

In a video about the handout, one student said, "Just having that device in my pocket, on my keychain, is going to make me feel safer."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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