Dustin Steinhoff, Staff Writer
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has partnered with Rave to bring UMSL-specific functionalities to the Rave Guardian phone application, a service designed to help provide safety to students on campus with a unique buddy system implementation.
UMSL already uses the company Rave in order to send out the text messages and notifications that students and faculty receive when an emergency takes place on campus. Rave also has a phone application titled Rave Guardian, which provides a variety of different safety features. On March 30, UMSL paid for the services that the Rave Guardian app provides. UMSL will be doing a soft launch during the upcoming summer semester to make sure it works properly with a formal roll out at the start of the upcoming fall semester.
“Anyone that has an ‘umsl.edu’ email address will be able to download the [Rave Guardian] app for free,” UMSL Police Chief Daniel Freet said. “It was not free for the university, but it is free to students, staff, and faculty.”
The name of the Guardian app refers to the unique “guardian” system that the app provides where the user assigns friends or family members as their “guardians” that can be contacted when something might be wrong.
“The Guardian portion of it refers to a peer safety accountability system. When you download the app, you pick a handful of people who are your ‘guardians.’ You preload into the system who those people are with their contact information,” Chief Freet said.
After choosing one’s “guardians,” they will be the ones alerted during a situation in which something may be wrong.
“[The app] has a timer on it. You say, ‘I am walking from the Mark Twain Gym to the MSC Building and it is 2 in the morning. It shouldn’t take me more than however many minutes to get there,’ and then you hit your timer. If you do not disable that timer, using your personal code when you get where you are going, then the phone waits for a little while and then begins to notify those ‘guardians’ you previously established so they can check on you. If they cannot figure out what is going on, then they should call us, or parents, or somebody. They know your life better than we do. You picked the people who know your habits.”
Another feature includes the ability to contact 911 or the UMSL Police Department with the press of a single button.
“The screen itself has a one-touch button that dials 911. Even when you’re off campus, you hit the button, it dials 911 and it goes to the nearest cell tower,” Chief Freet said. “We also have our own phone number and we try to remind people of all the time. Well, there it is, on the app. You press UMSL PD and you’re talking to our dispatcher.”
There may be a situation where the user may not be able to talk over the phone to get help. The Rave Guardian app has a solution for that too.
“Let’s say you are in a position where you do not feel safe calling and talking to our dispatcher. You can text straight to us. You can give us crime tips, texts us ‘help,’ or text nothing and hit the send button and we will get a pop up here with a GPS location,” Chief Freet said. “Of course, GPS is not always absolutely perfect based on the location of the cell tower and quality of the phone antennae, but it will be close enough to where we can come looking.”
Upon opening the app for the first time, it will ask the user for the app to access the user’s location to “help keep you safe,” which is an integral part of the Rave Guardian app. The user must then sign up by giving an email address, phone numbers, password, etc. Once the user is done, they can start using the app. It is recommended that the user add their guardians at this time. The services that the app currently provides will be limited until UMSL officially begins the partnership with Rave and their Guardian app in the fall.