DPS to Roll Out Campus Safety App

On April 29, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will be able to respond to students via a cell phone app.

The Rave Guardian app is available on both Apple and Android platforms. Students can create an account using their UH email address, which configures the user’s interface for the Mānoa campus. Still, the app is not limited to UH students – anyone, including family, can create an account.

“Lots of large campuses just the same size as ours use this app and have had really great success with it, so we’re really excited to get this started and to have another way for students to not only get in touch with us, but to take ownership of their safety and their friends’ safety,” said Sarah Rice, DPS community programs manager.

She said DPS had been exploring the possibility of an app to better connect campus security with students for about six months and ultimately chose Rave Guardian. If the app works well for UH Mānoa, DPS expects that other UH campuses may follow suit.

According to the Rave Mobile Safety website, thousands of colleges and universities are currently clients.

While students can download the app and set up accounts now, Rice stressed that DPS dispatchers would not be available to respond until April 29.

How it works

First, users must set up one or more “guardian,” or the individual that will be responsible for responding in case of an emergency. Guardians can be imported from a cell phone contact list.

One function of the app is the safety timer, which works by allowing the user to choose a guardian and set a timer. If the user fails to turn off the timer before it expires, the guardian is alerted and the cell phone’s location shows up on a map, as long as location services are enabled.

Rice noted the safety timer function would work well on a date or when walking alone. The app can also be used off campus, however she said that students should select a guardian other than DPS, since they only respond to alerts at UH Mānoa.

The app’s “Emergency” page allows users to call DPS or 911 at the touch of a button. Users can also send DPS a text message tip and attach a photo.

Though Rave Guardian works to keep students safe by sharing their phone’s location, Rice said users’ privacy is protected, and DPS can only see their location if they choose to share it.

“The only time we ever see you on a map is when you call us, you text us, or if your safety timer expires, then you’ll show up on our map. Otherwise, our screen is blank and we have no way of looking people up,” she said.

Rice also said the app will make it easier for DPS to locate students who are unfamiliar with campus landmarks.