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Emergency phones get an overhaul

When walking alone at night, great comfort can be found in a little illumination. Some of this comfort is found in emergency blue light telephones, distinguished by the flashing blue light above them. These phones are located between buildings and in parking lots around campus.

Directly linked to the USF Police Department, they automatically indicate the location of the caller, even if he or she is unable to speak. They also have instructions for the hearing and speaking impaired.

Having that security is nice, but a survey conducted by the Oracle on Feb. 8 revealed that 13 of the then 55 lights were malfunctioning.

The organization Necessary Improvements to Transform our Environment (NITE) hosted a walk through campus to blue light locations.

“We just walked around and looked for areas that looked like they were lacking lighting, lighting was broken or (for) things that could just be unsafe, like overgrown bushes,” said SG Senate President Pro Tempore Nicole Randazzo.

They recorded what they found and sent a list of what was broken to the Physical Plant so they could begin repairs.

“We’ve been told that 48 new blue lights were approved, and we gave them a list of suggested places as per what we found when we did the NITE walk,” Randazzo said.

There are a total of 60 blue light telephones on campus. Twelve of those are receiving new paint and stickers, and the remaining 48 are being replaced, according to the Physical Plant.

None of the lights are done yet, and once they have all been installed and tested, the old lights will be removed.

According to Brian Ippolito, Physical Plant Technology and Systems manager, they are about halfway through the installation process.

They have eight weeks to finish the task, but Ippolito said they should beat that deadline.

The problem with the old phones is that they were solar-powered, and would not be fully charged after cloudy days. The new lights are wired to the nearest lighting circuits and use digital cellular technology, said Ippolito.

“They’re more weatherproof and I think they look better,” Ippolito said. “These are much more decorated.”

The new lights are continuously lit, as opposed to the old blinking lights, which will make them easier to locate. Installing extra lighting on campus has not yet been approved, said Randazzo, and won’t be until a budget is decided. “We have been working to increase the number of blue lights on campus, as well as lighting in general on campus,” said Carissa Caricato, president of NITE. “The blue lights are few and far between, and there are some places that are pretty dark on campus. Our opinion is that USF should be proactive and have all of these things fixed before an emergency happens.”