Rave Guardian is the widely-unknown smart phone application used for student safety that Oswego State currently subscribes to, but the Student Association is looking into a new application to replace it: CampusSafe.
The president of Oswego State’s Student Association, Anthony Smith, went to high school with the inventor of CampusSafe (or as it is called at RIT, TigerSafe,), Eric Irish.
Oswego State currently has four blue lights on campus. Only two of these blue lights are currently operational. The two blue lights that are not operational are set to be removed from campus.
“I did some research and it looks like we got the app and started using it in 2009. So, we’ve had it for about four years now,” Smith said. “I believe in March is when we purchased Rave Guardian, and we got it for a year, and then we continued to use it.”
While Oswego State has had it for nearly four years now, very few students know about Rave Guardian and what it does, let alone use it. And many of the students who do know about the app don’t use it for fear of the GPS tracking feature being used to track them at all times, Smith said.
“The reason for the switch is, the students aren’t using them,” Smith said. “They’re not using Rave Guardian, many don’t know what Rave Guardian is, and honestly it just seems clunky and outdated.”
The Rave Guardian system seems impractical and unsafe in general.
“When I think of a system that would be effective when it comes to alerting somebody, the last thing I would want to do is have to call and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be home in 20 minutes.’ That makes you a target,” Smith said. “So, something that’s quick, discreet… Something like CampusSafe would be nice.”
Irish worked with RIT’s public safety office and some of the students of RIT to develop the program. TigerSafe is now being adapted into CampusSafe, so that other universities can use the program for their own campus safety needs.
“I started CampusSafe as the commercial realization of the TigerSafe product,” Irish said. “A mobile security platform that could be brought to other colleges and universities. For example, at Oswego, we might call it LakerSafe.”
Three main goals of CampusSafe are to inform, report and assist.
The first goal, to inform, is accomplished within the app by offering “quick, easy access” to Public Safety phone numbers, weblinks and assorted other safety services, Irish said.
The second goal, reporting, is made easy and efficient for users of the app.
“Report allows users to submit medium priority reports such as the need for a jumpstart, vehicle or room lockout, escort, et cetera,” Irish said. “These can all be submitted without having to call public safety, and will provide public safety with the user’s contact information and physical location so they can respond.”
The last goal is to assist, and the way that the app accomplishes this is by essentially turning into a blue light on your smart phone.
“We use Wi-Fi and GPS location services to determine if you’re on campus, and if you are, a quick press of the blue light will alert Public Safety to your current location, contact information and any extra health emergency information entered,” Irish said.
The app also has a feature that allows users to physically call the public safety department on campus.
The app comes with a dashboard to be used by the public safety department and has a Google map associated with it. The map allows them to see where on the campus the caller is, so long as the caller’s GPS is turned on. If the caller’s GPS is turned off, the application alerts the caller that GPS is not activated, and asks if this is what the caller wants.
Users who may be hesitant about activating their GPS to be used by public safety should be aware that the app only uses GPS when you submit a report.
Anthony Yazback is the lead investigator at RIT, and he worked hand in hand with Irish on this project, helping Irish try to perfect the app from a public safety aspect.
Yazback says the No. 1 goal of the app is for callers to be able to reach the public safety office. The app requires the same amount of effort as calling into the public safety office, if not less, Yazback said. All of the information that is usually obtained from the telephone is now available on the CampusSafe dashboard. Not only can caller information be determined from the dashboard, but it can also determine how many people are using the app, or even opening it on their phones to check statistics.
Yazback said that they tried their best to build a versatile app.
“It gives people options,” Yazback said.