CampusShield is an app that is being used by colleges across the nation with a goal of strengthening communities by connecting campus safety forces with those who are in need.
Personal safety and security on campus are big concerns for students, faculty and parents across the country.
South Plains College was looking for better ways to ensure the safety of students through integrated software and a single solution. The new smartphone app, which was launched March 18, features an Emergency Button, which can immediately connect to campus safety forces, along with Safety Escort, which allows an individual to request a safety escort on all SPC campuses. There also is an anonymous tip button that allows photos and/or video to be submitted to law enforcement.
According to Chief Nickolis Castillo, director of Campus Police at SPC, it took roughly three years to work through service agreements, contracts, and to get approval for the app to be introduced at SPC.
“To me, there are two important aspects of safety,” said Castillo. “There is the actual safety of the campus, and the perception of safety on the campus.”
The college is required under state law to perform a safety audit every three years, and, according to Castillo, when it came to safety across all campuses, he wanted SPC to be a leader in this area.
Castillo hopes that students will be able to use the app as a way to rely more on themselves and their peers for safety, as well as to have access to officers on duty at a greater capacity whenever a student or faculty member needs help.
One of the most unique and important features of the app is called Geofencing. Once the user opens the app, they will notice an emergency button at the very top of their screen. This button is a Geofence to the user’s current location on any campus. If the user is off campus and finds themselves in an emergency, they can still use the app. Pressing the emergency button will dial 911 and call the nearest police dispatch for them.
If a user encounters an emergency, they do not have to find specific phone numbers to call the right office. If the emergency button is pressed using the CampusShield app, it will give officers on duty at that campus their location.
“ I encourage everyone to download the app,” said Dr. Stan DeMerritt, vice president for student affairs at SPC. “In an emergency, only the authorized personnel at the scene will be able to see the information and will be able to communicate it to hospital personnel. Overall, this is a great solution for SPC. Hopefully, students will use the Submit a Trip and FriendWatch on a regular basis.”
The FriendWatch feature allows for peer-to-peer monitoring. The police are not involved unless the user, or a third party, decides that they must call campus police to get them involved.
It allows for users to monitor each other. When they create their own profiles, they are able to select a group of friends who are part of their contacts in that profile. When they use FriendWatch in the CampusShield app, they can select the activity that they’re planning to do and then select a time period when they’re expecting to be completed with their activity.
After the user selects a time period, they are required to enter a pin number that they will have to put in a second time once their activity is supposed to be completed.
If the user does not enter their security pin number that was created within that time-frame, then it notifies their friend that was selected that they did not make it to their destination, or that they weren’t able to complete that activity. Once their friend is notified, then they will be able to see each others location in order to see if something had happened to them.
This is a way that students can monitor each other and make sure that the others are safe. It is all voluntary. Nothing is required, and it stops tracking once that pin is entered by the user.
The app comes with many other features for students and faculty, and more features may be added in the future. If any student or faculty member is just in need of service, do not hesitate to call campus police, and use the CampusShield app for emergencies only.