By Abigale Subdhan
Those code-blue emergency poles scattered throughout campus now have a mobile counterpart thanks to Toronto-based start-up Guardly Corp.
The company introduced the security app last Thursday and offers it to 67 universities and colleges across Canada — including Ryerson.
Students can download the free app, called Smart Campus, to their smartphones by providing a campus-registered email address. Once installed, the user has one-touch access to security services from anywhere on campus. The app also allows students to exchange text messages with security, depending on the type of emergency.
The app is available for download on iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows 7 smartphones.
Josh Sookman, founder and CEO of Guardly, created the app as a way to develop current campus emergency practices.
“We worked at a university and became familiar with the campus emergency poles. We wanted to fix [their] limitations,” said Sookman.
Tanya Fermin-Poppleton, operations manager of security and emergency services at Ryerson agrees the app will make security more accessible to students.
“It narrows it down for students so they don’t have to know where their nearest [security] phone or blue phone is,” said Fermin-Poppleton.
Smart Campus works both on-campus and off but if you’re off-campus, the app does not contact campus security. Instead, a GPS device tracks your location and gives you the option to contact up to 15 people in a pre-established list of emergency contacts or to call 9-1-1.
Second-year computer science student, Elvis Tran, said he’s interested in downloading the app; however he still has some concerns.
“I see [this app] as being misused. People still pocket-dial and because its one-touch, there will be lots of accidental calls,” said Tran.
The problem, according to Sookman, will be solved with Guardly’s 10-second countdown that vibrates every second to notify the student in case they have misdialed.
“The biggest challenge will be reaching students and making sure they are aware of it,” he said.
That is why Guardly has created a program within campuses across the country that not only promotes the app, but promotes ending violence on Canadian campuses. The Campus Hero Campaign (https://www.guardly.com/campushero) allows students who download the app, to work together to create awareness about campus safety.
Ryerson students can get involved with this campus’s initiative by going to Guardly’s website.
Sarah Serajelahi, fifth-year sociology student, agrees the app is an appropriate step to take to enhance security measures at Ryerson.
“When I stay late to study, the buildings are so quiet to walk through,” said Serajelahi.
“I’d feel a little safer if I used [this app].”
This new security option available to students comes in light of an alleged sexual assault and abduction of a 27-year-old woman three weeks ago. The Ryerson campus was under security watch alerts after the woman was forced into a black mini-van by six males at Yonge and Gerrard Streets.