Police embrace technology to better connect with campus

June 7, 2019 | UToday
By Meghan Cunningham

Campus police are embracing technology to better connect with faculty, staff and students instantly through the smartphones we have on us at all times.

The UT Alert emergency notification system is moving to an opt-out system for the 2019-20 academic year; once complete, this will automatically sign up mobile numbers to receive texts in the event of an emergency on campus. Users currently have to sign up for the texts while all members of the campus community receive an email to their UToledo accounts when a UT Alert is sent.

“We don’t leave home without our phones. It’s always with us in our pocket or sitting right there on our desks while we’re in class or in the office. We know that is our go-to communications tool in the event of an emergency, and it’s important our campus community know that’s how they will get the message if we need to reach them,” UToledo Police Chief and Director of Public Safety Jeff Newton said.

Individuals should continue to opt in to UT Alert until the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

All UT Alert users have the ability to enter up to three phone numbers and three email addresses into the account to be sure they get the alerts in whatever platform they use most regularly. Some students also might wish to include contact information for their parents or guardians to receive the real-time notification of campus emergencies, Newton said.

“In the event of an emergency, we are looking to reach as many people as possible as soon as possible,” he said. “Our campus community has embraced UT Alert, and we look forward to expanding its use even more.”

UToledo Police also continue to encourage members of campus to download the Rave Guardian app to access safety services. It has a safety timer and panic button to immediately contact police in an emergency and uses your GPS location to get help to you faster. The app, which is available to download for Android or iPhone, also allows trusted friends or “guardians” to receive the same information as the police.

With the advances in technology, UToledo will follow the trend of other universities and discontinue use of the stationary phones located across campus; they are past their life expectancy with parts no longer available for repairs, Newton said.

“We had planned to move away from the kiosks and toward smartphone applications, which is the trend in higher education,” Newton said. “Our Code Blue phones are becoming obsolete and are rarely used, so now is the time to make that change.”

In addition to smartphones to quickly contact campus police, new software now allows for calls to 911 from campus phones to ring both to Lucas County 911 and the UToledo Police dispatch center permitting the campus officers to listen to the live call and immediately get the information, allowing for quicker police response and decreases in potential errors in relaying messages.

To contact campus police in case of an emergency on campus, call 419.530.2600. For non-emergency situations, call 419.530.2601. For off-campus emergencies, dial 911.

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