Rave Guardian app sees increased usage as access expands

As engagement with the Rave Guardian app grows at Ithaca College, the program is expanding and rolling out to new locations.

The Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management (OPS) is working to increase the use of Rave Guardian, the university’s public safety app, among the campus community and at other Ithaca College campuses. While Rave Guardian was introduced to the university campus in april 2021Samm Swarts, Associate Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the app was launched at Ithaca College London Center (ICLC) on August 23. and will be available on the Ithaca College Los Angeles campus beginning in the spring of 2023.

Currently, the main features of the app include allowing students to call OPS, share their location for a set period of time with friends, and access links to other emergency and critical resources., including the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of Title IX and Information Technology. The university can also use the app to send emergency alerts to students through push notifications.

Bill Kerry, executive director of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said in an email that there are currently around 2,000 registered Rave Guardian users at the university, a number that increased from around 180 registered users in the fall of 2021. Kerry He said that OPS set a goal in the fall of 2021 to have 5,000 registered users by the spring of 2024.

“People sometimes remove the app and that can affect our goal, but it is our goal and we will continue to strive for it,” Kerry said by email.

Kerry said in an interview with The Itacan that Rave Guardian is extremely important because, in addition to working with cellular data, it allows students to make emergency calls and receive emergency alerts with just an internet connection, so it is effective when cellular signals are blocked or the connection is lost. service.

Swarts said that since adopting the app in 2021, OPS has slowly increased its use at the university, but COVID-19 inhibited it; Swarts said the team was unable to present the app to freshmen at orientation events, which slowed its use on campus.

Maya Scriven, senior, said she was not aware of the Rave Guardian app before it was introduced to her at resident assistant (RA) training in the fall of 2022.

“I feel like a lot of the resources that Ithaca College has available, which is great, people just aren’t being told,” Scriven said. “I told my residents about it. I think the school feels like it’s the responsibility of other leaders, not the campus itself, to tell students and make them aware of these resources because I’ve never heard of them until [RA] training.”

At the 2022 New Student Orientation, students participated in resource rotation sessions where they met with various college offices. Elyse Nepa, deputy director of the Clery Act and Prevention Education, told a resource rotation session that the Rave Guardian team, including Swarts and Nepa, introduced students to the app and encouraged them to download it. Swarts said that in the future a required part of the orientation process will be downloading the Rave Guardian app.

Nepa said that in the 2021-22 academic year, OPS offered an introduction to using the Rave Guardian app as part of the student leadership institute series organized by the Office of Student Engagement. Nepa said OPS also hosts a training series called Emergency Preparedness and Response for students that features Rave Guardian as an important resource. According to the university websitethis training can be requested by any office or group in the university and will be tailored to the specific organization.

“Any opportunity we get to encourage our campus community to download and use the app and understand how easy it is to use and how accessible resources and help can be is really a high priority for us,” Nepa said.

Sophomore Ranjini Iyengar said that although she was encouraged in the RA training to tell her students about the Rave Guardian app, she had already downloaded the app on her own because her RA recommended that she download it in 2021. Iyengar He said that he feels that OPS does a good job of informing the university community of its resources.

Swarts said the Rave Guardian team at the university is constantly monitoring developers for updates to the app that they can deploy. Swarts said a new feature in the app allows students to add additional phone numbers for themselves; this means students can now add an international phone number to use when abroad and makes it possible for the app to be rolled out to the ICLC. According to the Ithaca College website, phone numbers allow university emergency alerts to be sent through multiple forms of communication to ensure students receive them. Swarts said students attending ICLC will also be encouraged to download the app during orientation.

“I can’t project what they might implement in the future, but if we find it to be a useful feature, we’d definitely want to bring it to the campus community,” Swarts said.

Rachel Gould, senior director of study abroad in the Department of International Programs and Extended Studies, said that Although ICLC has emergency contact systems, the app will make this process much easier.

“I think it will be to our advantage in London,” Gould said. “We have always had a means of contacting our students in an emergency, by email. and text and that sort of thing, but this centralizes it and puts IC’s emergency response people in the loop.”

Gould said ICLC director Meghan Callahan is currently researching London-based resources to update those students can access through the app when abroad to make them more applicable.

Not all features offered by Rave Guardian are available to the university community; for example, the app offers a two-way direct text messaging system where students can communicate with a dispatcher. Kerry said OPS doesn’t have enough staff to monitor a system like this in addition to the university’s other options for communicating with public safety officials.

“It’s an option, but we don’t think we can do it safely,” Kerry said. “So if someone were to text everything that person is already doing in our dispatch center, they may not be able to participate in that way given everything else that is going on in that area.”

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