University News

In new media push, DPS goes mobile

DPS Rave Guardian Campus Safety App logs over 1,100 downloads since semester’s start

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, October 17, 2014

The Rave Guardian Campus Safety App functions as a “virtual Safewalk,” said Deputy Chief of Police for DPS Paul Shanley. Its release is part of a suite of new safety promotion features.

Following the Department of Public Safety’s release of the Rave Guardian Campus Safety App at the beginning of the semester, the app has been downloaded over 1,100 times, said Paul Shanley, deputy chief of police for DPS.

The Rave Guardian app allows users to send tips about suspicious behavior, have their locations monitored when walking on campus and call emergency response lines with one click, Shanley said, adding that the app can function as a “virtual Safewalk.”

The app is just one of several new media initiatives, including an online safety portal and series of promotional videos, that DPS launched this semester.

DPS announced the initiatives in a community-wide email last month that also provided tips for staying safe on campus. These new features come in response to findings from focus groups that took place last spring.

“We felt that our community really wasn’t aware of all of the services that were offered in terms of public safety,” Shanley said.

Students registered with Rave Guardian can input their intended destinations and estimated times of arrival. If they do not reach their destinations in time, the software sends an alert to DPS, which responds to the situation. As of date, DPS has not received any Rave alerts, Shanley said.

The University started using Rave software in 2012, and the recent switch to the mobile app was intended to “make it more user-friendly for our community, especially the students,” Shanley added.

Though Eliot Green ’16 downloaded the app, he has not finished registering with the program. “My mom said that I needed to download it,” he said, adding that his mother learned about the app from an article in another college newspaper. But Green found the registration process after downloading the app confusing and “was having some trouble figuring it out,” he said.

For the app to receive campus-wide use, Green believes one of two things must happen. “Either it works really well and saves someone from a compromising situation, or they run a finely-targeted campaign.”

Jaclyn Licht ’16 said she had never heard of the app and does not feel in danger when walking on campus at night. “Maybe it’s a token of the safety measures that I do feel safe on campus,” she said.

In addition to the Rave Guardian mobile app, DPS also launched a new website featuring its own safety tips as well as information from the Transportation Office, Environmental Health and Safety and Campus Life, said Michelle Nuey, community relations manager for DPS.

“We really wanted it to be a one-stop shop for all things safety,” Nuey said. The site, which was launched with help from Computing and Information Services and Public Affairs and University Relations, displays phone numbers of University hotlines, emergency response services and transportation requests.

The site also spotlights “Bear Tips,” a series of four video tutorials about safety featuring the athletic mascot Bruno. “We’ve designed the modules around the most important safety methods that we wanted to get out to the community,” Nuey said. The four current videos focus on cell phone theft prevention, reporting suspicious circumstances, Safewalk and shuttle services, she said, adding that DPS plans to add more videos in the future.

The videos, which Nuey described as “light, practical and relevant for community members,” were filmed over the summer with help from Computing and Information Services.

Green, whose professor  showed the video about cell phone theft prevention in class at the beginning of the semester, said he thinks the videos are effective.

But Licht, whose friend showed her the video, said she doesn’t think the series was well-advertised or widely promoted on campus.

A Bear Tips video was also shown to the freshman class during orientation. Alex Hester ’18 said the themes explored in the video seemed like common sense. “I don’t think they really need explaining,” he said

“I’m not sure if there needs to be videos,” said Emma Axelrod ’18. “It turns a serious message into a joke.”

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