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Coping With Unsafe Campuses: Maybe Phones, Not Guns
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Coping With Unsafe Campuses: Maybe Phones, Not Guns

Mar 29 2014, 9:56am CDT | by

College can be a wonderful experience. But no environment is absolutely safe. Tragically, shootings, date rape, stalking, alcohol induced fights, and other predatory and violent incidents occur on...

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16 weeks ago

Coping With Unsafe Campuses: Maybe Phones, Not Guns

Mar 29 2014, 9:56am CDT | by

College can be a wonderful experience. But no environment is absolutely safe. Tragically, shootings, date rape, stalking, alcohol induced fights, and other predatory and violent incidents occur on campuses. Some see guns as the solution—letting students carry firearms to protect themselves. Just look at what’s happening in Minnesota , Idaho , and Oklahoma . Maybe a better way forward, however, is to arm students with a different technology: smartphones loaded with safety apps.

My university, Rochester Institute of Technology , uses TigerSafe (available on Android and iOS) developed by alumnus Eric Irish, currently Founder and CEO of CampusSafe, LLC . The app provides three functions: inform, report, and assist.

After clicking on ‘inform,’ you’re one touch away from Public Safety’s general and emergency response phone numbers—as well as information about crime prevention, reporting lost items, crime stats, and crime alerts.

After clicking on ‘report,’ you’re one touch away from solving medium-priority issues: being able to lodge noise complaints, convey that you need a jumpstart or escort, or alert Public Safety that you’re locked out of your car. The GPS feature provides precise information of where you’re located, thus bypassing the need to figure out exactly where you are and find the right words to convey it. Moreover, because the information is transmitted without needing to speak to a Public Safety Officer, it can minimize anxiety for students who would be anxious to make a phone call.

Clicking on ‘assist’ brings you to the most powerful function—a digital age version of the blue light buttons that are scattered throughout campus. By pushing it, Public Safety is informed that you’re in an emergency situation. They receive relevant details, including your contact and location information, and are prepared to speak with you via phone or text messages.

One way to judge the value of a technology is to assess the level of access people have to it. Since not every student has a smart phone, that’s clearly a limitation.

But the app isn’t replacing physical blue lights—it’s a supplemental service that simply adds new communication channels. Moreover, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf is located at RIT, and this means a good percentage of the student body is not well served by the design constraints of services that require verbally communicating with Public Safety.

I asked Eric Irish about the privacy implications of Campus Safe. He said:

“The age old question in the quest for privacy is that of security vs. convenience. With greater security, our ability to complete a task or access information is slowed with more steps and checks, decreasing convenience and ease of use.  Although I’m biased, I would like to think that CampusSafe doesn’t sacrifice one for the other… Campus Safety, like any police force, can be subject to undue characterization as ‘Big Brother.’ By offering an opt-in, transparent service like CampusSafe that increases convenience and access Public Safety can engage with their constituents in a positive way.”

For those of you interested in specifics, here’s what else he told me:

“An app like CampusSafe that deals so heavily in location acquisition is bound to face some scrutiny in privacy and security concerns, but we’ve had this in mind from the beginning. To satisfy the technical data exchange, CampusSafe runs on Google App Engine over HTTPS with SSL encryption. This is an enterprise-level deployment that can scale and defend with the same power of the Google services it runs: namely, YouTube. With the natural safeguards found in the iOS and Android operating systems, CampusSafe is transparent and indicative when one’s location is being acquired. CampusSafe does allow users to send along some optional information that would help emergency responders in the event of a bluelight press. For this possibly sensitive information, we modeled its delivery off of similar information that might be found on a bracelet or in one’s wallet. The optional assistance information is stored locally on the user’s smartphone, and only in the event of a bluelight press is it sent along with the report to Public Safety. This means that CampusSafe stores no personal information prior to a report, greatly increasing the security of such information.”

Some people will argue that in extreme situations every second counts and a smart phone isn’t enough. But we don’t know yet how much of a deterrent technology like CampusSafe will be if widely adopted. If the promise of the digital age is to be reached, that’s information we desperately need.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
10

6 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Cambodia's Famous Battambang Circus
KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was to ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
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6 weeks ago

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6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat ...
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Update
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6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Da ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

6 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states last month. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

6 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

6 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minis ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

6 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation of RM ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

6 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day One
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar S ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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