Department of Public Safety Looking To Create A Safer Campus With New Mobile App

Written by Mitchell Brown, Muleskinner

A new set of eyes have recently descended upon UCM — Campus Eye, a beta-test version of a free app for both iPhones and Android phones, is now available for students, faculty, and staff.

The Campus Eye was appropriated with the aim of creating a safer UCM.

“The ultimate goal of the product is to make it easy for people to report safety or security issues,” said Robin Krause, director of marketing and promotions.

The app was put into effect toward the end of the fall semester, and UCM is one of the first in the nation to use it.

The app allows the user to snap a picture of a crime in progress, a safety concern or “suspicious” activity. Then the picture, along with any additional notes the user wishes to send, is electronically piped to UCM’s Public Safety.

“When thinking about real time, having an app is a lot more time sensitive than it would be to go to a website and fill out a report form or make a phone call,” said Amy Kiger, director of the Office of Violence and Substance Abuse Prevention.

When describing uses for the Campus Eye, Scott Rhoad, assistant director of Public Safety, said if a student witnesses a hit-and-run accident, he or she could take a picture of the vehicle’s license plates send it to public safety, which Rhoad said would make the investigation easier.

As the name suggests, the Campus Eye is designed for use on campus in mind, but the app can also be used in situations off campus. Rhoad explained that the Campus Eye could be used at an off-campus party.

“It (the information) could be ‘hey I’m at a party, and there’s a whole lot of stuff going on that shouldn’t be,’ whether it’s sexual harassment or underage drinking, smoking marijuana or other drug use,” Rhoad said. Upon sending the info, public safety would then have an exact trace on the location of the party, as the app automatically detects the location of the user and creates a map with a pin drop of the user’s exact location. Rhoad added that students don’t have to take pictures of said party situation if they don’t want to.

Kiger said people often aren’t sure when and if they should report a crime or suspicious behavior.

She attributed such apprehension to a “bystander effect” and the idea that someone else will intervene, coupled with a fear of possible retaliation, calling the bystander behavior a part of human nature. Kiger said the implementation of the Campus Eye app could lessen such apprehension.

The use of the Campus Eye is not only designed for crime prevention alone, but the app is also applicable to general safety hazards. Kiger listed an electrical hazard or an icy patch on campus as examples of possible safety hazards.

Kiger said she hasn’t heard anyone voice disapproval about the adoption of the Campus Eye, but she also added that any time a new initiative comes along, it runs the possibility of catching criticism. She said some people might think the app could be used maliciously by those looking to get back at someone.

“I guess if people are concerned about that, I can say our public safety does a good job of determining whether something warrants a follow-up,” Kiger said.

The application is available by searching for “Campus Eye” in the app store on Android or iPhone.