CMU Releases Mobile App for Safety, Emergency Preparedness
With one tap users can call university police, access campus resources
By Bruce Gerson
Carnegie Mellon University is launching a free “virtual buddy system” to help keep you safe.
The Rave Guardian Mobile App, part of the CMU Safe initiative, turns your smartphone — Android or iPhone — into a safety device. Its features allow you to receive CMU-Alert emergency messages — even when you don’t have cell service — notify designated family members and friends where you will be and for how long, and to communicate with University Police.
“This is a great new service that transforms your smartphone into an emergency beacon,” said Melanie Lucht, assistant vice president for Enterprise Risk Management. “The Rave Guardian Mobile App is a virtual buddy system and the gold standard for emergency communications in higher education.”
Frank Marcopolos, director of Risk Operations, said one of the most important features of the mobile app is the safety timer, which allows users to notify designated individuals, or guardians, of their location via Google Maps, and how long they intend to be there. Guardians can be anyone the user selects from their contacts list, from friends and colleagues on campus to parents and relatives out of town.
“If you’re going to an event, or to an unfamiliar part of town, you can activate the safety timer and your guardians will be notified,” Marcopolos said.
If the timer is not deactivated after the designated time period, guardians will be alerted to call the user or University Police. Guardians will receive notifications via a website if they have not downloaded the app.
Marcopolos said only guardians can see the user’s location, and Google Maps is deactivated once the timer is turned off.
“This is a great new service that transforms your smartphone into an emergency beacon.” — Melanie Lucht
Christopher Duffey, systems analyst for Enterprise Risk Management, said one of his favorite features of the app is its emergency call button.
By tapping the emergency call button on your phone, users are directly put in touch with University Police, who can see your location via Google Maps as well as additional information that you choose to share.
Users have the option of creating a profile that university police can access when called. Profiles may include a photo, emergency contacts, vehicle information and medical conditions. Callers also can remain anonymous.
“At the minimum, we suggest users include a photo of themselves so University Police can identify you if you need help,” Duffey said. “But additional information is optional. You can provide as little or as much information as you choose.”
University Police Lt. Joseph Meyers said the CMU police force is excited about the app and grateful to Enterprise Risk Management for leading its development and implementation at CMU.
“If a student, faculty or staff member is in trouble, the app provides an immediate lifeline to University Police and can get them help very quickly. I implore all CMU community members to download the app,” Meyers said.
The app also provides you with a directory of important university resources that you can simply tap to make a call. The directory includes University Police, University Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Employee Assistance Program. In addition, it has a list of helpful links to the CMU escort service, the CMU shuttle bus tracker and an interactive map to the AED devices on campus.
“... the app provides an immediate lifeline to University Police ....” — Lt. Joseph Meyers
Lucht said hundreds of universities and colleges in the United States are using the Rave Guardian Mobile App. Schools employing the app include the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Florida State universities, Cornell University, Case Western Reserve University, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.
“We’ve been able to do a significant amount of benchmarking with other universities, and based on those examples we’ve defined the app in a way that meets the needs of our community,” she said.
Prior to adoption, CMU’s Information Security Office conducted a complete examination of the app and how it stores information to make sure it was secure and safe for use by the university community.
The app, which will officially go live Aug. 1, will be marketed to first-year students during Orientation. Lucht said presentations are being planned to assimilate the app into the community. If you would like Enterprise Risk Management to give a presentation about the Rave Guardian Mobile App, please send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org
“We want to make sure we’re interacting with as many groups on campus as possible to raise awareness and answer any questions,” she said.
The Rave Mobile Guardian App can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App store. More information and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the CMU-Alert website at www.cmu.edu/alert.