Hillsdale College Security is rolling out a new app that enables students and faculty to help keep themselves and their peers safe.
Rave Guardian, an app designed by Rave Mobile Security, currently serves half of all college students in America. Hillsdale’s IT department will release a version personalized to Hillsdale’s campus and security team in the next two weeks.
The app will augment the security department’s old app, Alertus, which only allows the college to “push” information out to students. With Rave Guardian, students themselves can feed information, warnings, and safety concerns to campus security through the app for campus-wide release. They will also be able to make requests for immediate assistance from campus security, local law enforcement, or each other.
Sophomore Gladys Oster, an RA in Benzing, has already been given a run-through of the new app so that she can encourage her residents to download it.
“I like it because it gives an opportunity not only for campus security to say ‘watch out,’ but for us to be able to communicate back with them,” Oster said. “I think that is a good factor because they want to know what the students are seeing as well.”
Joe Kellam, associate director of security and emergency management, played a pivotal role in making this jump in the college’s safety procedures.
“Our number-one job is to provide a safe and non-invasive environment,” Kellam said. “We looked at options where we could put call boxes out, but that didn’t seem sufficient. And then, about a year ago, we started a search for security options on a phone because that would always be with them.”
One of the app’s key features is a panic button that connects directly to 911. When a student downloads the app, they have the option to add information such as their name, address, photo, vehicle information, and medical records. If a student sets their preferences to allow it, when 911 gets an alert from the student, all of that student’s information will pop up to help the 911 operator handle the situation.
The app also offers a GPS tracking beacon that can be initiated by the user. If initiated, a 911 operator can track the location of the phone as it moves. The security team also worked this summer to upload to the app digital floor plans of every building on campus so that the GPS tracking beacon can identify from what building and floor a distress call originates.
This year, the security team also opened a student-staffed dispatch center to work in conjunction with Rave Guardian. A student can request immediate help from the 24/7 dispatch center anywhere on or around campus. Even if a student simply feels uncomfortable walking home alone, he or she can request a ride from security officers.
The student input component of the app enables students to help other students by submitting security concerns or suspicious activities to the security department, who can then push this information out to the entire campus.
Students can also protect each other through Rave with the “guardian” feature, which allows a student to send a friend a notification that he is on his way home. The student inputs his expected time of arrival, where he is coming from, and his final destination. His selected guardian can then accept the request. Once the request is accepted, if the student does not select the trip as completed within the allotted time, his guardian will get a notification.
From there, a guardian will have access to the student’s location on a map and can alert security if the situation seems suspicious.
Both Kellam and Rebekah Dell, associate dean of women, said they are hopeful the app will become a staple for students.
Kellam said he gathered a group of student interns to review promotional material for the app.
“We showed them options and 100 percent said they would be interested in downloading it,” Kellam said.
Dell said the app is another opportunity to connect and strengthen the Hillsdale community.
“It is a benefit for any student to download and take advantage of Rave, and be in the know,” Dell said. “In some ways, you are your brother’s keeper, because it allows you to be a force for the safety and care of your peers. You are helping campus just as much as yourself. You can be well-informed and a force for supporting your peers in all things.”