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Ole Miss Gives New Safety Alert Option to Students and Staff

The University of Mississippi has begun integrating a new service into its campus safety program that will allow students to communicate more fully with public safety officers in the event of an emergency. The institution has signed with MyForce, an online service that feeds a user's profile, special considerations, immediate location, and audio feeds to university police.

Users feed details into the MyForce database when they register for the service. That could include name, photo, vehicle information, emergency contacts, and known safety issues, such as medical conditions. Students will be able to sign up and try the service free for a month and then continue it after that for a monthly subscription. The service works on Apple iPhone, Google Android, and BlackBerry devices.

"At Ole Miss we want our family and guests to have every option available to contact us in an emergency. 911 and our blue light emergency telephone poles have proven their worth for many years. However, in this age of ever increasing technology we are constantly evaluating new options said Officer Jeff Kellum, crime prevention coordinator for the university's police department. "As we began researching new technologies, MyForce rose to the top of the list. The MyForce GPS tracking system makes it possible to quickly identify who needs assistance and their location on campus. This system also allows immediate access to the medical and safety concerns the subscriber has loaded in their profile.

Kellum said witness intervention aspects of the service could also prove helpful in preventing crimes before they occurred.

When a user sends a MyForce alert from a smartphone on campus, the information is received by the company and the public safety division. When the subscriber is off campus, MyForce communicates information to the local 911 dispatcher for appropriate response. As part of the service, the company creates a "geo fence" or invisible boundary in order to distinguish which calls are occurring on campus and which ones are offsite.

The standard pricing for MyForce is $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year. That amount is discounted for students.

Other users of the service include the University of Colorado Denver and Quincy University in Illinois.

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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