The North Dakota State University Police and Safety Office is piloting a new personal safety and security service that includes a smartphone application.
The NDSU Personal Safety and Security Assist service includes a smartphone security application called Pathlight®. It allows NDSU dispatchers to remotely track a user on a monitor in the NDSU Police Communications Call Center any time the user initiates a safety assist, such as prior to walking alone across campus at night. The call center is staffed around the clock every day of the year.
The NDSU Personal Safety and Security Assist service complements the Campus Security Escort Service, which has been providing security escorts to students, staff and faculty since 1992. NDSU also offers dozens of informational training opportunities related to safety and security throughout each academic year.
“The safety of our students, staff and faculty is our top priority at all times, and we continuously look for new ways to help them take more control of their welfare,” said Michael Borr, director of the University Police and Safety Office. “We want to make sure all NDSU community members are aware that this new service exists and is available for their use.”
Borr said NDSU selected Pathlight for several reasons. First, because it is integrated into other NDSU systems, it connects an individual’s photo with an assist so dispatchers and officers know exactly who they are looking for if they need to respond to an alarm. It provides a way to send a silent alarm when a user requests help so an attacker will not be aware authorities are on the way. Finally, the app uses GPS as well as wireless networks, so dispatchers can locate a user’s phone at any time between the point of origin and the designated destination.
To initiate a safety assist, a user enters his or her destination and estimated travel time in Pathlight, then selects “Follow Me Now.” The NDSU dispatcher is able to view the location of the user’s phone during the safety assist.
A user also can call police with one touch or send a silent alarm to an NDSU dispatcher with the swipe of a finger if he or she feels threatened or there is an emergency. In addition, if the person does not arrive at his or her destination within the designated timeframe, an alarm notifies the dispatcher on duty, who is able to view information regarding the assist on a monitor in the NDSU Police Communications Call Center.
The pilot release includes a new Web page at www.ndsu.edu/besafe, where people can learn more and begin the process for downloading the app.
NDSU cannot track a phone unless a user enables the app, and he or she can disable tracking at any time. When officers are dispatched, their primary concern will be the user’s safety.
The CBORD® Group, Ithaca, New York, created the Pathlight app. NDSU selected it because it integrates with other systems already in use on campus. For example, CBORD technologies enable access to buildings, help track dining meal plan usage and allow students to print in NDSU computer labs.