Security

U Iowa, Others Tap Mobile Apps for Campus Safety

University of Iowa, Santa Fe College in Florida, University of Texas at El Paso and Barton Community College in Kansas have adopted or begun testing a mobile safety app for emergency notifications and mass messaging in the event of a campus emergency or "virtual safety escorts."

The company behind the Rave Mobile Safety app also has updated its suite of services to include Rave Command View, a new consolidated view feature.

The company's "guardian" mobile app lets users enter an estimated travel time and destination and select a guardian. If the user fails to check in or deactivate the safety timer upon arrival at their final destination, the app notifies the guardian and shares their GPS location so the guardian can check on them. If a user runs into trouble during his or her trip, the app also includes a panic button feature that gives the user direct access to campus public safety or 911, depending on their location and proximity to campus.

"Hawk Watch," as the mobile app is branded at U Iowa, is "a tool we're using to let the community know that we're here, we care about them, and we're standing by ready to help if they need us," said Floyd Johnson, emergency management coordinator with the university's Department of Public Safety. "It's just another layer of protection that students, faculty and staff can opt into to enhance their personal safety."

The app also allows users to send anonymous crime tips via text message.

"As technology continues to advance, we've realized that many students feel more comfortable text messaging than talking on the phone," added Johnson. "By giving students access to an application like Hawk Watch, we hope students will feel more comfortable contacting the Department of Public Safety, whether it's to request a guardian, report a crime or share ideas for how to improve safety on our campus."

Rave Command View provides a view of consolidated data gathered through Rave Guardian and Rave Panic Button to present emergency calls, tips, cases and facility information in a single web interface. The idea of the updates is to allow the emergency team — dispatchers, first responders and command staff — by gaining displays of floor plans to locate emergency callers, student photos and location information to speed response.

The service also features analytics for tracking of safety incidents and content authoring tools. In 2017 Rave expects to add a real-time location feature that allows safety administrators to target emergency notifications based on the recipients' locations.

The company said in a statement that its safety products are used in 1,400 campuses across the country, covering 40 percent of the higher ed population.

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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