March 10, 2020

The emergency call boxes once located on campus have been replaced by a mobile app. (Scribe Archives)

UCCS gained access to the Rave Guardian smartphone app on March 1, replacing the call boxes on campus.

Rave Guardian has a variety of functions, including two emergency call options. One connects the caller directly to UCCS police, while the other contacts the standard 911 dispatch.

While students can still place regular calls to 911 and the Department of Public Safety at 255-3111, going through the app provides additional benefits. The app provides a real time location so a caller can be located more efficiently, according to UCCS Chief of Police Marc Pino.

Pino said that calling 911 through the app also alerts campus police that there is an emergency on campus. If a student places a regular call to 911, first responders on campus will be left out of the loop, which has caused difficulties in the past.

“If somebody calls 911 from their cell phone because of a medical emergency, sometimes we don’t know that they have been called until we see a fire truck pull up,” he said. “If you call 911 through the app, we’ll get that notification and location so we can get out there and provide some intermediate medical care until the ambulance gets there.”

Rave Guardian also gives users the opportunity to text with campus dispatch. This feature is beneficial for callers in situations where they cannot speak on the phone. It also provides equal accessibility for hard of hearing and hearing- disabled students on campus.

Another feature allows users to set a safety timer that sends location alerts to chosen recipients, or “guardians.” If the timer is not manually deactivated before the time is up, the guardian will be prompted to give the user a call.

If a user is planning on walking to their car, they can set a 10-minute safety timer on the Rave Guardian app while they walk. The guardian, who can be any personal contact or campus police, will receive a notification and a link to a web map with the user’s location when the timer is set. The guardian does not need to have the Rave Guardian app downloaded for this feature to work.

Once that 10-minute timer is almost up, the user is prompted to disable the timer, alert their guardian, or contact emergency services directly. If no action is taken, the selected guardian will be automatically alerted and prompted to call the user.

The safety timer feature can also be used anywhere, not just on campus. In fact, Pino encourages it. “I would really encourage people to use this app because you don’t even have to be on campus to use it,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have a limit. If you’re off-campus, we’ll get notified and we may call you.” Pino used dating as an example where using the Rave Guardian safety timer off-campus could improve safety and comfort in social situations.

“If you’re on a first date, everyone has that plan with a friend to text or call at a certain time. You can still have that communication, but also start that Guardian app,” Pino said. “You have that where it’s not relying on you being able to get away and make a phone call.”

To use the app, location settings must be turned on, but user locations are only shown to the campus police department when a caller activates a call, chat or safety timer that lists the guardian as the UCCS Police Dispatch, or official guardian. If a user selects a friend or family member as their guardian, the campus police will not see the user’s location unless there is an emergency.