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Safety light construction ahead of schedule

Some of campus’ darker corners are about to become brighter.

Construction of 48 new emergency blue lights, set to replace the old, often malfunctioning lights currently on campus is presently ahead of schedule, according to Physical Plant officials.

A study conducted by the Oracle in February found nearly one quarter of the 55 blue lights, which denote the locations of telephones meant to aid students in case of emergency, to be malfunctioning.

According to Physical Plant coordinator of computer applications Brian Ippolito, the project will cost a total of about $330,000, with about $263,000 going toward the phone hardware itself and the rest allocated for electrical work and construction costs.

The new phone assemblies, produced by Talk A Phone, will replace those on campus distinguished by the yellow box attached to a metal pole.

Most of the new emergency phones will be placed within 25 feet of the current Comarco assemblies.

The Comarco phones rely on dated analogue cellular signal technology, which many cell phone companies no longer support. They also receive electricity through solar panels, which means if it is cloudy, they may not have the power needed to function correctly.

The Talk A Phones will feature more reliable digital signal technology and receive their power from a constant ground supply.

According to Ippolito, the blue lights that adorn the new, nine-foot Talk A Phones will be constantly illuminated, whereas the Comarco models lights sometimes blink only once every five seconds.

Sarah Austin, president of Necessary Improvements to Transform our Environment (NITE) – a student group that advocates campus safety, and sponsors a blue light walk every fall – said that she feels the new phones are a sign that administrators are taking campus safety seriously.

The blue lights adorning the Comarco models are hard to see unless you look straight at them, she said. The signs are also faded, making it difficult to tell the purpose of the phones.

Construction is set to commence on the concrete foundation for the new phones, Physical Plant officials said, but they are awaiting State approval of dig sites.

The seven remaining emergency phones, most of which are located next to Holly Apartments, are newer than the Comarco models and have been retrofitted with digital receivers. Though they too rely on solar power, the remaining phones have larger panels that are more reliable.