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NSU upgrades security on campus with new 911Shield app

(Tahlequah, Okla.)-- The start of fall semester on Aug. 17 at Northeastern State University ushers in a new era of campus security, as students, faculty and staff can now connect with campus police in a matter of seconds.

The “911Shield” application, available via free download to iPhones and Android phones, will provide the campus community with the ability to be connected at all times, regardless of location, on or off all three campuses.

According to Patti Buhl, director of public safety at NSU, the diverse functionality of the software, which was created by 911Cellular Technologies, allows for a broader interface and flow of information.

“This new system provides a means by which to communicate with students, faculty and staff, as well as them communicating with us,” Buhl said.

In this way, while campus police can warn students in the event of severe weather with instructions for safety procedures, communication is two-way, and users can send messages or alerts to a 24-hour dispatch located on the Tahlequah campus.

Campus Police Capt. James Bell explained the new 911Shield application goes beyond GPS technology and utilizes an indoor positioning system (IPS) which would allow campus police to find the exact location of a student inside a building.

A user within the campus who pushes the emergency key in the application would be automatically connected to the campus police department.

“The old system, no matter where you were, if you hit the emergency button, it would call our police department. The new system is geofenced. So if you are off-campus, it will (automatically) dial 911.”

Another feature, Friend Watch, lets users to set up an emergency contact should they fail to check-in by a preset time.

It allows users to create an alert by including information about location and description of activity, and start a timer for how long it should take.

“It would send your emergency contact a message that says, for example, ‘James is going jogging, check on him in 30 minutes.’ And if I don’t hit the OK button at that time, it will alert my emergency contact,” Bell explained.

In this instance, a dispatcher could be alerted by the emergency contact, and can then access the system to locate the student, by tracing the phone.

Campus police can also post to a “crime map” on the application, providing updated information about what’s going on.

“If there is an incident, like a car burglary, we can put a pin in the map and a notification will go out advising students about the situation,” Bell said.

Users can also now text the dispatcher, send anonymous crime tips and view emergency protocols.

Buhl said the department was excited about the new system and its ability to bolster the safety of the campus community.

“We hope this will provide an added peace of mind to our faculty, staff and students and help them feel more connected."

Bell advised that everyone should download 911Shield, as it was not designed solely for a target demographic.

“Even if you think you’re invincible, you still need access to other information, like if there are burglaries going on in a certain parking lot. That information could be relevant to you.”

The new system goes beyond the capabilities of a panic button, and Bell hoped students, faculty and staff would take advantage of the extra sense of security now available to them.

“You’re not too cool for it. Don’t get complacent. Just because we have a safe campus doesn’t mean something bad can’t happen. Safety is something you always need to think about."

Published: 8/19/2015 3:25:28 PM

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