Rebekah Smiltneek took it upon herself to write a detailed recommendation report for Guardly to be adopted by the campus police department at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. This report was initially part of her class project. Everyone at Guardly thanks Rebekah for taking the time and care to consider our Safe Campus program for her school.
Enclosed is “Security Mobile Phone Application: A Recommendation Report.” This report contains a recommendation of the Guardly Safe Campus system, a new technology aimed at increasing campus safety and communication with campus police.
Since you have expressed your commitment to investing in technology upgrades for the UW-Milwaukee Police Department, I hope you will carefully consider this recommendation. The report analyzes smartphone use on college campuses and the merits of the Guardly Safe Campus system. The features, costs, benefits, and demand for the Guardly Safe Campus system are discussed. I obtained many facts about the product from a Guardly representative.
I hope this report will provide you with all the information you need to evaluate the Guardly Safe Campus system for UW-Milwaukee. Please let me know if you have any questions about this report.
This report examines the effects of the UW-Milwaukee community’s inability to use current cell phone technology, such as texting and sending photos, to communicate with police. The purpose of this report is to provide the UW-Milwaukee Police Department with the information necessary for assessing the effectiveness of implementing a security phone application, Guardly Safe Campus, for all UW-Milwaukee students, faculty, and staff.
The procedures used to conduct this study are the following. Many recent news stories were consulted. They have revealed the need to utilize this technology, and the federal government also has recognized its importance. Essential information was also gleaned from a Guardly representative, who was consulted in a webinar.
The major findings of the report are the following: (1) Smartphone use is increasing on college campuses. (2) The Guardly Safe Campus mobile phone application has all the features the police department needs to increase its responsiveness on campus. (3) The cost of the mobile phone application system will be affordable for UW-Milwaukee. (4) There will be numerous benefits of implementing the system for students, faculty, and staff, the police department, and the university as a whole. (5) Demand will be high for the phone application. Further research is needed to determine how much it would cost to train employees on the Guardly Safe Campus management system.
Based on these findings, the conclusion has been reached that Guardly Safe Campus would be an appropriate and important addition to the UW-Milwaukee Police Department’s services. The report recommends that the university fund and implement this service as soon as possible.
On today’s college campuses, just being able to call campus police in an emergency is not enough. With the prevalence of cell phone technology, students assume they can text the police. When police don’t receive these texts, students have no chance to get help. This is exactly what happened in the infamous Virginia Tech shooting. Some students were in a lecture hall with the shooter, so they couldn’t talk on the phone or call out for help (Gillespie, 2011, p. 1). They desperately tried sending text messages to 911. Local dispatchers never received the silent cries for help (Guardly safe campus). A situation like this could happen at UWM, and lives could be saved if students could text the police.
Another heart-breaking example of text messages not reaching the police is when a girl watched as her two friends were attacked by the “East Coast Rapist” in a wooded area of Prince William County. The Washington Post reported, “The teenager knew that if she tried to make a call from her cellphone, the man would hear her voice and things would get even worse. But she had to get help. She pulled out her cell and started thumbing. ‘911 . . . pls noww man with gun,’ she wrote in a text message. The urgent plea went out to her mother, father and four friends. But emergency dispatchers at the 911 call center never got it” (Labbe-DeBose, 2011, p. 1). This situation could happen in one of our campus’s dorm rooms. Imagine a woman hiding in her dorm room closet while someone attacks her roommates. What a terrible choice she would have to make between calling police and risking being heard and assaulted by the attacker or staying silent and helpless in the closet. Enabling her to text the police would eliminate that terrible choice.
A woman watching her friends being attacked in a dorm room could text her friends for help, but why not the police? Texting can certainly save lives, but it is not as efficient to text a relative or friend when you could just directly text the police. ABC News recently reported on an emergency situation in which texting for help was all two men could do. Seventeen-year-old Tom Mulvaney and his 73-year-old grandfather capsized their canoe is icy water. Even though their wet cell phones didn’t work, they were still somehow able to text relatives for help. Those relatives then had to call 911 (Pinto, 2011). How much more efficient would it have been if the men would have been able to text the police in the first place? Police know how precious those seconds are in an emergency situation.
The federal government has recently recognized texting as the solution to the problem. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) thinks the ability to use cell phone technology in emergencies is important. On September 22, 2011, the FCC took the first step toward “updating the nation’s 911 emergency dialing system to receive text messages, pictures and videos, in addition to voice calls” (Gross, 2011, p. 1). James Barnett, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said “The ability to send text messages photos and video clips has become commonplace for users of mobile devices, but our legacy, circuit-switched 911 system does not support these forms of communication. Adding these non-voice capabilities to our 911 system will significantly improve emergency response, save lives, and reduce property damage” (Gross, 2011, p. 1). Barnett also confirmed that in some situations, having to make a voice call puts victims in further danger. The federal government recognizes the importance of solving the current problem.
In light of these recent real-life examples of the problem and the government’s endorsement of texting as the solution, I propose the UW-Milwaukee Police Department enhance its security services by using the cell phone technology that the majority of students, faculty, and staff already use. I urge you to implement a security smartphone application for all students, faculty, and staff that will enable your police to receive locations of users, text, and photo messages, and more.
Analysis of Smartphone Use
To implement a security smartphone application on campus, students will first need to have smartphones. Smartphone use is steadily increasing. A study by Ball State University found that 99.8 percent of college students own a cell phone (Truong, 2010, p. 1). In February 2009, only 27 percent of students used smartphones (Truong, 2010, p. 1); however, Adam Levine of Gaurdly, a company that produces security phone applications, reports that about 65 percent now use smartphones (2011, p. 4).
I did my own smaller survey of 25 UW-Milwaukee students to see if I would find the same results as Guardly. I did. Sixty-four percent of students I surveyed use a smartphone.
What are students using their smartphones for? In 2011, Graham surveyed 462 college students on their smartphone use. Out of 19 possible choices, 95 percent of students said they use texting on their smartphones—more than any other feature (Graham, 2011, p. 4). Photos and video came in at 91.3 percent, while only 81 percent of students said they use voice calling. In my survey, I asked students what they use their smartphones for. My results illustrate the same trend Guardly found.
Texting is one of the most popular activities, with photos and video sharing next, and voice calls after that, coming in at only 87 percent. Texting is overtaking calling as students’ main way to communicate. The Ball State University study found 97 percent of students use texting as their main form of communication—not email or instant messaging (Truong, 2010, p. 1). The popularity of texting as evident by these surveys and studies explains why students expect to be able to text the police.
What kinds of smartphones do students use? The Guardly study found that the majority of smartphone users have either Android, iPhone, or Blackberry (Levine, 2011, p. 4).
Analysis of Guardly Safe Campus
The stage is set for the implementation of a security mobile phone application because students are increasingly using smartphones on campus. I recommend the Guardly Safe Campus service. It is a security management system that allows first responders to receive texts, photos, and the location of the person communicating with the police. The service includes phone applications for student, faculty, and staff smartphones (Guardly safe campus). The phone application can be used on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7 devices, which are the majority of smartphones students use (Levine, 2011, p. 4).
The Guardly Safe Campus system has many important and useful features for both students and police.
Networks and Communication
The phone application will enable students to communicate quickly with safety networks. Safety networks are lists of contacts that a student can quickly notify in an emergency or non-emergency. In one tap, students can alert two different safety networks (Levine, 2011, p. 5):
- Campus police or 911 (depending on where the student is)
- Friends, family, and/or neighbors
Students can create custom safety networks, like “Studying Late” or “Allergic Reaction.” This ensures students can quickly contact the appropriate friends or relatives in any situation. In certain situations, these friends of relatives might be more helpful than the campus police. For example, if a student has an allergic reaction, a family member or roommate could quickly bring the medicine they need to their location. Another example would be a female student who is walking home from campus to her apartment in the evening. She feels like she is being followed, so she alerts campus police and her “Studying Late” safety network. Her “Studying Late” safety network could include friends who live in nearby apartments who could aid her. This feature could also be especially useful to disabled students who may have difficulty contacting people for help.
The phone application will enable students to do the following (Guardly safe campus):
- Communicate with campus police and/or safety networks by voice calling
- Communicate with campus police and/or safety networks by sending text messages and photos
- Play a loud whistle to scare attackers/followers or alert others to their situation
Profile and Location
When a student communicates with campus police and/or safety networks, the following information will be sent automatically:
- Real-time location
- Personal profile information
Each person using the Guardly phone application would create a profile with personal information to be shared with campus police or other security networks in an emergency. The personal profile would include the following information to be sent automatically to police in an emergency:
- Campus email
- Phone number
- Physical or medical information such as allergies or current medications
- Emergency contact information such as parents’ or doctors’ information
In addition to the profile information, Guardly will also immediately send a student’s real-time location to police. Guardly uses GPS technology, cell-tower triangulation, and WiFi-hotspots to maintain accurate readings of the person’s location (Guardly safe campus). Police can define the area/perimeter in which students can alert campus security. This system has the following advantages over code-blue emergency phones in terms of location (Levine, 2011, p. 9):
- Faster access to report incidents
- Faster ability to respond to incidents
- Campus police can stay connected if the emergency moves
In addition, students will know how to use the mobile phone application to alert police to their location. In my survey, I found that although 76 percent of students are aware of the code-blue emergency phones on campus, only 44 percent know how to use them.
The real-time location feature would be especially helpful to the disabled. After observing a blind friend struggling to figure out his location on campus while using his iPhone, I realized that having his location immediately sent to police in an emergency would be immensely helpful. Guardly can be used by people with hearing, visual, or physical impairments. The Guardly website says, “Guardly for iPhone has been specifically designed with accessibility standards and can be fully operated by vision impaired individuals (after initial setup of the mobile application).” (Guardly safe campus). Additionally, the texting feature of the phone application would facilitate clear communication with speech-challenged students.
The management system interface will be easy to install and use. Guardly works with many existing systems, and Guardly can also do a custom system integration. First responders will be able to locate everything they need from one page.
The Guardly Safe Campus management system will keep track of everything for the police department, including the following (Levine, 2011, p. 12):
- All incidents
- Time data
- Location data
- People notified and involved
- Any communications after the incident
First responders will use an easy, web-based system that requires no additional hardware or software beyond a computer, monitor, and internet browser. The system will improve compliance by improving reporting and auditing capabilities.
With the recent budget cuts to education in Wisconsin, you may be thinking UW-Milwaukee will be unwilling to fund an updated security system. However, safety is a huge concern of parents and students in making college decisions. If students and parents feel the campus is unsafe, they may choose a college in the suburbs. Additionally, Chancellor Lovell has mandated that all UW-Milwaukee freshmen, with some exceptions, live in residence halls starting next year, and sophomores must live on campus as well in three to five years (Herzog, 2011, p. 1). This will mean more students on campus more often, which increases the need for improved safety features.
The retail price for the Guardly mobile application is $20 per year per person. However, I discussed the possibilities with Adam Levine, a Guardly representative, and he said Guardly is [priced differently for schools and that there would be a substantial discount on a per person basis, for an implementation at UW-Milwaukee]. *Pricing details were removed from the public version of this report.
There would be numerous benefits to implementing the Guardly Safe Campus service for students, the police department, and the university. The benefits to students, faculty, and staff would be the following:
- They could communicate silently with police and/or security networks when oral communication would put them in further danger or is not possible.
- They wouldn’t need to waste time communicating their identity or other information about themselves.
- They wouldn’t need to know and communicate their location.
- They wouldn’t need to remember descriptions of the person(s) involved in the situation.
- They would feel more empowered to communicate with police.
The benefits to the police department would be the following:
- Police can respond more efficiently, quickly, and accurately due to increased communication of information.
- Finding and arresting criminals would be easier with photos to assist. No longer are descriptions dependent on memory.
- Compliance will be improved.
- The system will be easy for police to implement and use.
The benefits to the university would be the following:
- Criminals would be deterred by the thought that anyone can silently text the police or take photos and send them to the police.
- The school could advertise its commitment to the safety of students by pointing out its use of the most current cell phone technology. As a result, enrollment could increase.
Will students want to use this phone application if offered? Demand will be high. Guardly did a survey of Canadian college students to discover how enthusiastic and cooperative students would be about signing up for and setting up a security mobile phone application system. If the mobile phone application was offered free to students, 93 percent said they would sign up for it. The majority of students would also be willing to provide police with essential information on a student profile. They would give their email addresses (96 percent), phone number (93 percent), and emergency contacts (83 percent) to help police.
I did my own survey of UW-Milwaukee undergraduate students to discover if I would obtain similar results on our campus. In my survey, 76 percent said they would want the security mobile phone application system if it were free. The majority would be willing to fill out a student profile for the police to use in an emergency (72 percent) and provide their email addresses (68 percent) and emergency contacts (60 percent) on their student profile, but they were divided as to providing their phone numbers.
Additionally, I found that only 24 percent of students always feel safe on campus. Sixty-eight percent said they would feel more empowered to communicate with police in an emergency if they had the security mobile phone application installed on their phone.
Administrators as well as students recognize the demand for this kind of application. In September 2011, a security mobile phone application became available to students at the University of Maryland. The application was developed by a university computer science professor and a team of students in conjunction with campus police. Shiv Krishnamoorthy, a doctoral candidate who helped develop the application, said students are eager for smartphone applications that will help them feel safer on campus (Sentementes, 2011, p. 1C).
Conclusions and Recommendations
After researching and analyzing the problem and solution, I conclude the following:
- Smartphone use is steadily increasing on college campuses.
- The Guardly Safe Campus mobile phone application has all the features the police department needs to increase its responsiveness on campus.
- The cost of the mobile phone application system will be affordable for UW-Milwaukee due to large discounts offered.
- There will be numerous benefits of implementing the system for students, faculty, and staff, the police department, and the university as a whole.
- Demand will be high for the phone application among students and administrators who use smartphones.
I urge you to add this life-saving technology to your security services at UW-Milwaukee. The police department is already using texting (the S.A.F.E program) to communicate to students, faculty, and staff about on-going threats to the campus. Why not allow them to communicate with police using this same technology? Since the police department is committed to using “progressive and technologically sound practices,” (Mission statement) why not take this logical and important next step in protecting the campus? Implement the Guardly Safe Campus system.
Gillespie, E. (2011, April 16). Texting 911 in the works. Corvallis Gazette-Times. Retrieved on November 11, 2011 from <http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/article_a7ed21ca-67fd-11e0-b847-001cc4c03286.html>
Graham, H., Griffin, M., Howell, S., Taylor, H. (2011, April 24). College students and smartphone usage. Retrieved November 11, 2011 from
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Herzog, K. (2011, October 13). New chancellor Lovell to put UWM in spotlight. JS Online (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Retrieved on October 25, 2011 from
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