author Marlee Hirson, Wednesday February 24, 2016

A recent editorial article from, “Mobile Safety App Not Sufficient Replacement for Blue Light System” discusses the University of Connecticut’s decision to extract the remaining blue lights around campus in favour of the mobile blue light feature in the campus safety app. The article disagrees with replacing the blue lights for a mobile safety app because of the possibility of glitches in the campus WiFi network and that some students may not own a smartphone.

Smart Phone Usage

In response to these points, safety apps take advantage of both WiFi and cellular networks, meaning that a spotty WiFi network won’t significantly impact functionality. As for students who don’t own a smartphone, if you look around a university lecture hall, you’ll see most students using a smartphone. A study from Educause in 2015 reported that 86% of college students own a smartphone and that number is only growing. Given that that’s almost 9 out of 10 people, we think that’s definitely a sufficient level of coverage.

Of course, having both a mobile safety app and manual blue lights on campus would be the most beneficial. Public Safety is definitely one of the few industries where redundancy is good. But in the choice between the two, mobile safety apps are the better choice versus traditional blue light poles.

Here’s 5 reasons why mobile safety apps can replace manual mobile blue lights:

  1. Mobile location tracking – Students or staff can send their location to campus security/police anywhere to have their location monitored in real time. Blue lights are stationary so depending on the situation, students may not always be able to reach a working blue light quickly.
  2. Push notification safety alerts – Schools can easily notify students and staff of an emergency by sending out campus-wide push notifications. These notifications reach users when they are connected to WiFi or cellular and are triggered even when the app isn’t running.
  3. Offline available content – Mobile safety apps include safety resources and information on emergency procedures that are accessible even when the user isn’t connected to the WiFi network.
  4. Two-way communication – Users can send pictures or message campus security to send anonymous tips or report suspicious activity, as well as receive updates and information from campus police. The app acts as a medium for two-way communication between users and campus police departments.
  5. Safety tools – Most mobile safety apps include a “safety toolbox” which provides users with helpful tools such as a loud alarm and flashlight.

The advantages of using mobile safety apps as a campus safety solution are significant, with the recent events at the Vancouver Island University being a recent example. The campus security department used their safety app to issue a campus wide lockdown just minutes after an armed intruder was spotted. Manual blue lights are helpful, but we believe mobile safety apps outperform manual blue lights as a campus safety solution. We believe that if you have to choose, there’s no question that a mobile safety app is the preferred option.

Price Difference 

One last thing to mention is the cost comparison between a mobile safety app and campus blue light poles. Blue Light emergency phones can cost around $400,000 to install and $75,000 for upkeepOur mobile safety apps cost a fraction of what blue light telephone poles cost. Don't believe us? Check out our pricing

Do you think manual blue lights should be maintained and continue to be used on campus? Are mobile blue lights more effective than manual blue lights? Comment below and let us know what you think!