Guardian app aims to improve campus safety

Baldwin Wallace Student Government, along with BW IT and Safety and Security, have worked together since last year to bring the RAVE Guardian app to BW’s campus.
The app became available to the BW community in September and is a new part of an ongoing dedication to campus safety.
BW’s campus, like many other universities’, already has the blue light system, in which people can alert Safety and Security if they are in an unsafe situation. The RAVE Guardian app, however, is like a mobile version of this system, creating access to safety resources regardless of proximity to a blue light phone station, said Student Body President Kevin Kaufhold.
“The cool thing about this is that it can be downloaded on your own personal phone and you’re able to call safety and security from anywhere on campus,” he said. “And once that call comes in, they’re able to pinpoint where you are, so you’re not looking for a blue phone, because that could put you in more danger, just trying to find one of those blue phones.”
When a user wants to send an alert, the Guardian app allows students to choose their own “guardians” to alert, or “by default, makes [their] primary ‘guardian’ Safety and Security,” said Greg Flanik, chief information officer of IT at BW.
Parents can get the app and be added to their student’s Guardian Network, he said. Although they cannot send a tip or set safety timers, they can be set as the Primary Guardian and they will receive any alerts from their student.
The app is designed around the idea that students are nearly always in proximity to their phones. For example, students can set a safety timer and if they aren’t at a specific location by the end of the timer, the app alerts the Guardian Network.
Guardian uses GPS and Location Services on the individual’s phone, so Safety and Security can also zoom in on the student’s last known location on campus and will dispatch an officer out to them.
Flanik said that Guardian also has an anonymous tips feature, in which people can send in a message or a picture, and it’s sent anonymously to Safety and Security. This may create an atmosphere of greater safety through collaboration, Kaufhold said.
“By sending anonymous tips, it helps give you more courage to report something that you may not be sure of you should report or not,” said Kaufhold, who also works in Safety and Security.
In the end, the app is considered proactive, rather than reactive, he said.
“It’s hard to think that something might happen at BW, but if you get into that mindset that nothing could happen, something might happen,” he said. “So, we would rather spend that money, take that initiative, and be safe rather than sorry.”
He said that Student Senate voted unanimously to spend the money on Guardian, and BW administration has been receptive. However, that reaction has not been universal. In fact, the main struggle with this app is getting students to download it, Kaufhold said, but Student Government is working on advertising it. They plan to promote it at the next First-Year Orientation, and hope to get parents and their students to download the app.
The RAVE Guardian App is available in the App Store and the Google Play Store. Students can sign up using their BW Student email address.