How Can Colleges and Universities Notify Their Communities of an Emergency?

After the Virginia Tech shootings, many universities began working on systems and procedures to notify their students and administrators of campus emergencies. One that many of them began using was a mass text service, which was a great first step. On the downside, many of those text tools can be costly at up to five cents per text.

One example of the mass text service tool we recently saw was in Chicago. Some large cities’ mobile phone carriers are now providing Emergency Broadcast System services (typically heard on TV and radio) for mobile phone alerts. Many of these carriers use text alerts to tell their customers what’s happening. While we were in Chicago for the Lollapalooza concert, we were texted regarding an impending severe weather alert.

I actually saved the text because it gave me an idea for a notification app that we could build for colleges and universities.

A recent survey found that only 48.8% of colleges agreed or somewhat agreed that they would handle a disaster well.

For colleges and universities, we are developing a safety app that will improve students’ safety, and their self-confidence about their own safety.  If a student is leaving the library or a party after dark, they tap the app and it alerts the campus police that they are walking home, and it tracks the student by GPS until they reach their destination. If the student doesn’t tap in every 30 seconds to 2 minutes, campus police will find them on the map and ensure they are not in danger.

Our “guardian angel” app will cost $1 per semester per student, which can be rolled into the student activity fund.

It will also provide universities with an unprecedented, robust push notification system — like the text alert we received in Chicago — to make them aware of any campus-wide dangerous situations instantaneously. Our beta testing has shown amazing results in how quickly we can push out mass alerts to customers.

Watch for Interapt to start rolling this out onto college campuses in the next month and a half.

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