Security

New Safety App Pinpoints Floor and Room Number in Emergency Calls

Sacred Heart University in Connecticut hopes to reduce emergency response time. It has tested out a feature on a university safety app that during an emergency can pinpoint where inside a building a person is located. SHU Safe, a product of 911 Cellular, is an emergency communication tool between the university community and campus security.

Typically, users enter profile information that will display for public safety when assistance is requested. A new function feature uses an indoor positioning system to enable police to locate a distress signal down to the floor and room number of a multi-story building. The program uses the existing IT infrastructure and, according to the vendor, requires no additional equipment or wiring.

As the university explained to its community on a campus Web site, as long as the user is "somewhere on SHU property" and his or her phone is connected to the school's Wi-Fi system, the location will show up.

If the person is outside, the phone's GPS will identify a "general location." When the user is off campus, the call will go directly to the 911 line for the place where he or she is located.

"Callers in distress often can't identify their own location," said company CEO Chad Salahshour in a press release. "Now dispatchers know exactly where in a building each smartphone signal originates, and the caller never has to say a word. If the phone moves, inside or out, the location updates online for police every 10 seconds."

The same safety app is also used at the institution in two other ways. People can report suspicious or unsafe activities, either anonymously or with the location setting displayed. They can also set up a safety check to inform others when they expect to return; if the safety check isn't turned off by the designated time, the contacts receive a text alert.

The mobile app is available for both Android and iPhone devices.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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