The Department of Public Safety, with the help of Safewalk, is currently testing a new product that can turn a cell phone into a personal safety device.
The product, called Rave Guardian, is an application that can be downloaded to any cell phone. It is designed to protect students who may be walking alone or in unsafe conditions by quickly relaying information to an alarm system monitored by DPS.
DPS will install the application on between 25 and 30 Safewalkers' cell phones over the next four weeks as a trial run of the service, wrote Mark Porter, chief of police and director of public safety, in an e-mail to The Herald.
"As a Safewalker, I've never felt uncomfortable," said Chelsea Macco '11, who will take part in the trial of Rave Guardian. "We have neon vests and are carrying radios."
But, she added, "As a student, I come home late from libraries all the time, and I definitely get a little bit nervous."
Students can activate the application by setting a timer by text message before walking to their destination. If they do not reach their destination and deactivate the program within the chosen time frame, the program automatically alerts campus security with the student's exact location. Students can also alert DPS of an emergency by pressing a panic button on their phones.
"The alarmed Blue Light Phones are currently the main system in place for aiding a student who is alone and under duress," Safewalk supervisor Isabel Mattia '11 wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. "They are a great system, but because of the nature of a stationary phone, have some inherent flaws. I think the mobility of the Rave Guardian is its greatest asset."
"In case of an emergency, I'm not confident that I could operate the Blue Light Phones without taking time to read the instructions," Macco said. "On the other hand, I'm reasonably good with a cell phone. I know I could contact the Rave Guardian program easily."
Rave Guardian's future at Brown will depend on the success of the trial phase and the program's cost, Porter wrote.
Despite the fact that the program would allow campus security to track a student's location, Porter wrote that invasion of privacy need not be a concern because the system can only be activated by the user.
Mattia wrote that Rave Guardian could allow a student to feel more confident walking alone, especially late at night.
"Confidence is a key issue when it comes to personal safety," she wrote. "Even exuding confidence can be enough to deter an assailant."