Students at the University of West Florida have a new layer of security on campus this year, and it’s right at their fingertips.
“It’s called Guardian (and) it has three main functions. It’s most important function is it’s a panic button,” said Marc Cossich, the chief of police at the University of West Florida. He’s talking about a new app available for students at UWF to help improve safety on campus. “First you download the app from either iTunes or Google, whatever service you have. And you input certain information, information you that you’d want us to know if you were unconscious. Such as you’re diabetic, you have allergies, you have an epi-pen, those kind of things. Hopefully you will maybe put a picture of you in there so if you get in trouble, wherever you are, you press the button and that information pops up on our screen along with your GPS location. And then we can track you whether you are standing still, walking or in a car.”
Chief Cossich says they recently ran tests on the GPS function and found it worked on campus, in town, even deep in the woods. The app also works as a traveling companion.
“If you are in a residence hall and you want to go to, say, the computer center or the library at night and you’re by yourself, (and) we never recommend you go by yourself but if you do, you can make your roommate or someone else your traveling companion for that little trip. And they can monitor you, they can watch you while you’re going.”
You can also set a timer when you leave for a walk or a drive and if you do not arrive on time, an alert goes out and the police call you to make sure you are alright. And even though the app has all of your information, it also has an anonymous mode, when you can text the campus police and alert them to a situation without your identity being revealed. “So if you see a crime happening, you can let us know. We can talk back and forth but we don’t know who you are. It’s an easy way for you to play a part (in having some) extra eyes on campus.”
The app includes a call directory feature with access to local police and sheriff’s departments, the UWF Counseling Center, UWF Student Affairs and the Lakeview Center Hospital 24-hour helpline among other emergency and counseling services. It is available for free for all students with a UWF email address.