Use of new safety system will determine its fate

Student interest this fall will determine the fate of a new Rave Mobile Safety system on campus.

The Guardian 911 program, which was first introduced at USF on June 1, is a “user-monitoring program” accessed by students traveling on campus, said USF Emergency Management Coordinator Paul Latham.

“Say a student is returning home from the Library,” Latham said, “and he or she knows that it will take 10 to 15 minutes to reach home. The student can call the (Guardian 911) number and give a PIN number and set a timer.”

Once the time limit expires, the student receives a text message inquiring whether they have reached their destination, Latham said. If the student does not respond to the text message, a voice message is sent to the student’s phone to determine his or her safety and, if necessary, a University Police (UP) officer is dispatched to their location.

Rave Mobile Safety, the company that provides the MoBull text message alert system, has provided the services through a free, one-year trial.

The program, which UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross said has been “in the works for a while,” may become a permanent installment at the University once security officials determine its effectiveness by the amount of people who register this fall.

Ross said a concern UP has with the program is the increased opportunity for false alarms.

“It’s a great program,” she said. “But there is a possibility for false alarms, with police officers being dispatched around campus.” However, she said this would “probably not happen that often.”

The way the program is designed allows little room for outside tampering, Latham said.

“This program cannot be manipulated,” he said, “because the program is personalized (to a specific PIN number).”

Emergency information that a student wishes to disclose upon registering is accessible exclusively to UP dispatchers through the Smart 911 system, Latham said.

This information includes phone number, residential information and information on “student’s medical issues,” he said. “If the student, for example, has diabetes, the officer would know to bring insulin.”

The security provided by the system is something that Riley Parks, a freshman who has yet to declare a major, said is a welcome addition to campus.

“I know that the University is ensuring my safety,” Parks said. “It’s positive reinforcement, a step in the right direction as far as student safety is concerned.”

Students can register for Guardian 911 through their OASIS accounts.