New App Guards Students’ Safety
With the press of a single button, students, faculty and staff instantly may contact Public Safety via the Guardian App, a new Smart Phone application intended to help keep our campus community safe in the event of an emergency.
“Once you press on the Guardian application, several icons pop up. The red emergency triangle button contacts Public Safety immediately,” said Daniel J. Colonno, director of public safety at MCLA. “It rings into our emergency line. An alarm goes off in our campus dispatch center and the person’s profile comes up, as well as their GPS location.”
When students, as well as faculty and staff, register for the system, they may opt to include as little – or as much – information about themselves as they would like. Options include the student’s name, their photo and where they live on campus.
“It’s not until they push this red button that we know where they are. We don’t know who they are unless they fill in their profile. But, they’ll have the ability to call Public Safety. To me, that’s the best thing,” Colonno said.
Even if the situation is such that the student may not be able to speak, or cellular reception is poor, Colonno said Public Safety will know their general location which would assist in finding them to provide assistance.
“Or, let’s say they’re three blocks from the College, but they’re not familiar with the area. They press this button and we have an idea of where they are,” Colonno said.
Strategically located across the campus, MCLA has “blue lights” – emergency posts that a student may access to contact Public Safety in the event of an emergency. “If you have the Guardian App on your phone, it’s in essence a portable blue light,” Colonno said.
In addition to the red triangle emergency locator button, a 911 button gives users the ability to contact the closest 911 center. This application can be used anywhere – not just on and around the MCLA campus.
Students also will have the ability to send Public Safety an anonymous tip via their Guardian App. This button will not bring up any profile information.
“Sometimes people want to help but want to remain anonymous” Colonno said. “You press on that application and you can text Public Safety. We don’t know who you are. There is no GPS feature to this. It’s strictly an anonymous tip.”
For example, if a student wants to report a suspicious vehicle driving around, they may take a photo and send it along with the text.
“It comes to our computer and the dispatcher can text you back. Say your roommate has a friend over who’s getting a little out of control, but you don’t want them to hear you talking. You can send an anonymous text,” Colonno said. “The dispatcher can ask if you’re okay and text back instructions on what to do.”
Another feature, a “Safety Timer,” allows users to tell a friend – or officials at Public Safety if they so choose – when the students are on their way home.
“You set your safety timer and if at the end of, say, 15 minutes, you don’t turn your timer off, it will send an alert to the person who has agreed to be your ‘guardian,’” Colonno explained. “It will give your name and your GPS location. The friend also could call you to make sure you’re okay.”
Then, if need be, the friend may call Public Safety to provide them with the information and the student’s last known location.
“It’s a tool for students to have, to contact Public Safety at a second’s notice. They can have this on their person, everywhere they go,” Colonno said.
“Our overarching goal is to keep our campus community safe,” he added. “This is one more tool, in addition to those already provided by the College and Public Safety, which will allow our campus community to contact us for any emergency.”
The Office of Public Safety is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached at 413-662-5100.