App makes smartphones into safety devices on UNC campus

Posted August 26, 2014
Updated August 27, 2014

— Students, faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now have access to a free app that turns smartphones into personal safety devices.

The Rave Guardian Campus Safety App, an initiative between the school's student affairs and public safety departments, allows users to create an online safety network where they can check in with family, friends and UNC police officers.

"There are ways here to send a tip. That could be a small, text-style message, or it could be a photograph of suspicious activity," said Randy Young, spokesman for UNC Public Safety.

Other features of the app include the following:

  • Create a safety timer to notify people to check in on you when you are alone or in an unfamiliar place. UNC police officers and designated friends or family can be alerted if the timer isn’t turned off within a set time.
  • Invite family members, friends or others to be "guardians" and communicate with them through the app.
  • Link directly to a user-created safety profile that contains information, including residence details (both home and campus) and medical conditions. The profiles are visible to UNC Public Safety and 911 centers nationwide with Smart911 technology.

"I feel like it would give you more peace of mind at least to know you did set that (timer) call and someone is looking for you or it did go to police," UNC student Cody Penny said.

The technology is trickling onto campuses across the country, but UNC-Chapel Hill is the first school in North Carolina to offer this type of safety app to students.

"I love that, and I think it not only gives parents security but the students security," parent Sophia Gergoudis said. "It's just a little thing in the back of your head, and you feel safer."

While the Guardian is designed for college students, it's an app that anyone can use anywhere. It can be downloaded to Apple and Android devices.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 27, 2014

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    Right. They should just sit on their hands...and not purse any measures that could help increase student safety. For instance, they could save a bundle of $$ in electricity if they removed all campus lighting, emergency police call boxes, safe-ride escort programs, etc.


  • iopsyc Aug 26, 2014

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    Part of creating an environment where you can educate students, includes safety.

    The app was developed by a third party, and is in use at campuses across the UA, so I think your litigation concerns are a tad overblown.

  • Marley Higgins Aug 26, 2014
    user avatar

    the timer to alert police or friends if not turned off in time is the only 'safety' feature here. the rest is just common sense - if you're that safety conscious, you probably gonna check in with people anyway.

    of course, if you're that scared of the world, maybe you should just stay at home instead...

  • Doug Hanthorn Aug 26, 2014
    user avatar

    Gork and Archmaker, you forgot to say "Thanks Obama!" Jeez, you think you two are smarter than the people who developed this app? Smarter than the law enforcement experts that had input to its design? Wow! Two smart fellas, I guess.

  • Gork Aug 26, 2014

    thousands of people tapping in "tips" to the police about "suspicious" activities? Wonderful...

  • archmaker Aug 26, 2014

    sounds like our public university just opened the door to liability and lawyers when something with their app goes wrong.

    how about sticking to education?