New app to improve student safety

March 10, 2014 6:17 AMComments Off

Story by Cassidy Myers

Drake University’s campus security program is receiving a new update to help ensure student safety.

The R.A.V.E. program, which currently runs Bulldog Alerts and the blue light emergency phones around campus, is being extended into a new mobile security app.

The free app, which can be found by searching R.A.V.E. Guardian in the app store, offers many features that will provide security right at students’ fingertips.

Using their Drake email account, students will be able to program “guardians” such as Drake Security and other trusted friends into the app.

When walking somewhere, students can set a timer of how long it should take them to get to their destination. If the user does not turn off the timer, their guardians will be alerted.

Assistant Director of Campus Security Tricia McKinney said the app would give a two-minute warning before sending out an alert.

“If you don’t turn it off, that will set off an alarm with the GPS through your phone,” McKinney said. “It goes right to Drake Security, and there is a whole mapping system so we will be able to go right to your location.”

Drake Security will then call the phone directly to see if the student is in need of assistance.

The app also features an emergency button, which gives students the options to call Drake Security or 911. Students can also use it to leave Drake Security an anonymous tip.

“We know we’re going to have some false alarms, but hopefully people will be respectful and try really hard not to set it off unnecessarily,” McKinney said.

First-year Kayla Wandersee often had to make late night trips from the Bell Center back to her residence hall during the fall semester.

“I like that the app lets you tell your friends,” Wandersee said. “I feel like you’re more inclined to tell your friends where you’re going and what you’re doing so they’ll have more information concerning your whereabouts and what could happen.”

The app has been in the works since a recent spike with security issues said Ekta Haria, who is the Student Senate campus advancement chair. Haria spoke to the new security director, Scott Law, in order to help come up with the initiative.

“I knew I wanted to do something to help, so I met with the head of Drake Security about how to reduce security issues,” Haria said. “He talked to me about this R.A.V.E. app that he had used at the last school he worked at and we thought it would be nice to bring something like that to campus.”

McKinney cautions students to continue to be vigilant whether or not they’re using the app.

“Be smart and listen to that little voice in your head,” McKinney said. “You really need to be in the moment and looking around.”

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