Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
On April 15, an email was sent out to all University of Missouri–St. Louis faculty and staff informing them that the “panic buttons” located on campus were not functioning. The panic buttons are a security protocol installed on the computer desktops located in classrooms, labs and personal offices.
The panic button outage was due to a “vendor-related upgrade” issued by the vendor who set up the panic button system. The upgrade was in the form of a software update, which rendered the panic button utility on campus unable to function.
“The vendor made an upgrade to their software that was not compatible with the setup used on our campus,” Executive Officer Paul Anderson said. “The vendor has a suite of applications that we do not use – we only use the desktop panic button.”
The cause of the outage was not immediately apparent, as it took some time and effort between the university and the vendor to uncover what caused the failure in functionality.
“An issue was discovered the first week of April and it took a few days working with the vendor to identify the root cause,” Anderson said.
There are approximately 370 administrator desktop computers, all of which lost access to the panic button utility. The panic buttons were installed by the vendor on all instructor desktops computers on campus.
“The button was installed by ITS on all instructor workstations and computer lab proctor stations,” Anderson said. “UMSL PD has also assisted many staff members by installing this in personal offices and desks.”
Luckily for the university, no professor as of yet has deemed a situation serious enough to resort to activating the panic button.
“We have not had an activation of any panic buttons – other than testing during installation,” Anderson said.
Faculty and staff were encouraged to contact campus police through their phone number or through the Guardian Rave smartphone application during the outage. The Guardian Rave app has a number of unique safety features and is also available for any student or faculty member to download for free, giving it certain advantages over the panic button.
“The RAVE Guardian app is portable and also provides for “two way” conversation via text or direct dial phone call,” Anderson said. “The desktop panic button is simply an alert of an “issue” at that workspace.”
Another advantage of the Guardian Rave app is the ability to use it nearly anywhere on campus.
“The Guardian app will work anywhere on campus that has cell or Wi-Fi service,” Anderson said.
At the time of writing, the panic button functionalities remain offline.