Starting this summer, the Institute, in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety, has begun operation on a new program intended to increase security for students and faculty on campus. The Guardian program is an opt-in program designed to increase safety.
The goal of the program is to create a sort of mobile blue light, according to Inside Rensselaer. Students can register their phone numbers by logging into http://getrave.com/login/rpi/ with their RCS ID and adding whatever information they desire to their profile on that website. Then, students can set up a one-touch emergency call button on their cell phone, allowing them to alert DPS at the first sign of trouble. The alerts sent to DPS contain their profile, potentially including a picture of the user for easy identification, and GPS coordinates so Public Safety can get a visual approximation of the user’s location.
One additional safety feature of the program is the ability to set up a precautionary timer. The user calls the system, enters his or her PIN, and then sets a duration for the timer and a voice message describing what they are about to do, such as walking across campus. The user is sent reminders at five and two minutes left on the timer to remind them to turn their timer off, and if the timer expires without being turned off, Public Safety is notified as though the panic alarm was set off.
For now, the Guardian program is only active inside the Troy campus, and the GPS signal and panic signal are both dependent on normal cell phone factors like signal strength. It also should be noted that it is not a tracking program. Features like GPS location are only active when the panic alarm is activated by the user or when a timer expires. The user’s information will also not be accessible by DPS unless a panic alarm is sent or a timer goes off. DPS is unable to access any part of the user’s profile outside these circumstances.
The Guardian system is a free opt-in system provided by RPI. The system was purchased by the Institute through the Rave Mobile Safety Corporation. All of your profile information is stored by Rave Mobile, and they use the latest in security technologies to ensure your information’s safety while it is with them. The Guardian system can be used on any phone that has access to text or SMS message capabilities; not having a smart phone has no impact on one’s ability to use the service or its ability to assist users in dangerous situations. RPI Guardian may not be compatible with all network service providers, but it does claim to be able to work with most phones on Sprint, AT&T, Nextel, and Verizon. Once a student or faculty member registers their phone with Rave, they will be given more information on the system’s ability to track and report their location in the case of an emergency. Rave Mobile Security has received 11 awards in the past five years for their on campus security solutions and general security expertise.
If a student or faculty member changes his or her phone number, the new number must be updated on their profile, and if they leave RPI and come back for any reason they must recreate their profile, as all data pertaining to users is deleted when they leave the Institute.
It should be noted though that this service in no way replaces the standard reporting procedure for incidents on campus. All incidents should still be sent to the Department of Public Safety’s and the Troy Police Department’s standard numbers, extension 6611 and 911 respectively. Any prospective users are highly encouraged to visit the Frequently Asked Questions portions of the Guardian website, which can be found on the website for the Department of Public Safety on RPI’s domain, http://rpi.edu/dept/public_safety/.