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NDSU safety service app showcased at higher ed conference

Six months after introducing the NDSU Personal Safety and Security Assist service, a team of five NDSU staff members shared their story at the 2015 Association for College and University Technology Advancement Fall Seminar. 

Staff from the University Police and Safety Office and the Telecommunications and Emergency Technologies department presented on “Implementing Location-Based Safety Apps for Smartphones” at the seminar held Oct. 25 - 28, in Baltimore.

The presentation focused on NDSU’s recent implementation of a location-based personal safety and security assist app for students, faculty and staff.

The smartphone app, Pathlight, allows users to initiate tracking of their travels between destinations. With the smartphone app, a person can initiate a safety assist by entering destination and estimated travel time information. University police are then able to see the person’s location and respond quickly if he or she does not arrive within the allotted time or in the event of an emergency. The app is integrated with other campus emergency technologies, making it possible for university police to know who the person is, where the person is at, and how the person is doing when a safety assist is initiated.

The session was part of the “Preparing and Innovating for Tomorrow” presentation track, which highlighted case studies related to balancing the demands of today while addressing needs of the future in higher education.

“Safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority at all times,” said Mike Borr, director of the University Police and Safety Office. “Maintaining a safe and secure environment is critical.” To that end, Borr said his office constantly evaluates new safety and security-related trends and technologies, and then implements solutions consistent with NDSU’s safety and security vision.

Borr presented alongside staff from NDSU’s Telecommunications and Emergency Technologies department: Jason Blosser, technology systems coordinator, Vance Gerchack, director of Telecommunications and Emergency Technologies, Brian Miller, telecommunications analyst, and Jayme Pfeifer, telecommunications analyst.

During their presentation, the team summarized the decision-making and customization process, challenges faced and lessons learned during their five-month implementation project. The presenters explained the impacts of device-specific settings, complexities of location accuracy, impact of Wi-Fi, alarm notifications, features, and differences between traveling indoors and outdoors, all of which were carefully considered during implementation.

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