A cellphone app that is to track users and contact help is to replace emergency callboxes that dot Shepherd University campus and is to be available in fall 2019.
“After many conversations and meetings, it was decided it was not fiscally responsible to invest money into old technology,” Holly Frye, a university vice president, said. “It was not able to provide students with immediate response, even when fully functioning.” Frye is helping campus police prepare for the new app, which will be less expensive than keeping the emergency callboxes working.
The concept for the app was first presented to students during an student government meeting in late February. Shepherd director of social media revealed that the app can be downloaded through Apple App Store or Google Play and can be accessed by students with their Shepherd login. The app provides a personal tracking option and access to a directory of contacts at Shepherd.
Student government leaders did not welcome the idea of the app, noting it wouldn’t be useful to those walking through campus without their phones or with a dead battery. They asked why the existing callboxes couldn’t be updated. One of these student government leaders was Caitlyn Sheets.
(graphic by Katreena Stracke)“Students around campus need a backup to use when their phones are not working,” Sheets said. “A person being perused may pull out their phone. But the person perusing them will not hesitate to knock that phone out of their hands.”
Frye says that Shepherd’s app will cost $6,000 per year to maintain. The system was adapted by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2017.
Jim Terry is the director of public safety for Marshall University of Huntington, West Virginia. Terry says that the university has kept their radio-operated callboxes and pays $349 per month for those emergency callboxes. It also has analog emergency callboxes that cost $300 monthly to maintain.
The RAVE Guardian app is produced by Rave Mobile Safety. Rave Mobile Safety also designed Shepherd’s Rampulse website.