Tech trials look to improve personal safety
Pilot programs test direct link between police and students, staff
Zack Hill, The East Carolinian
November 10, 2005
The Technology Advancement Center, in conjunction with Academic Outreach and Campus Living, is experimenting with new technology that could assist ECU students and faculty in an emergency situation.
Four projects are scheduled, with Warehouse Alert being the only one currently operating. Warehouse Alert is being tested by 15 staff and student employees in Central Stores and Receiving and the Department of Materials located in the Management Warehouse on Greene Street.
The system consists of transmitter given to the employees that could be activated by the carrier and could send personal information to the ECU Police Department in the event of a crime or medical emergency.
" The hope is that, at the press of a button, you could alert the system and it could relate your location to the police by your proximity to the transponder," said Barry DuVall, director of the technology advancement center.
The system is completely wireless and would provide a protective shield for the area outside the building and the nearby parking lots that service the employees.
"We want the buildings downtown to be as safe as possible," DuVall said. "The campus is growing out into the community and we want to help those students and staff out there."
The second project is ECU Assist, with preparations already being made for research and testing in the spring of 2006. ECU Assist would involve mainly students in residence halls and perform a function similar to Warehouse Alert by allowing instant communication between a participant and the ECU Police.
Assist's technology, like Warehouse Alert's, works with a transponder, usually a belt clip transmitter. Police could pinpoint the location of someone wearing the transmitter in a residence hall as well monitor their movements once the system has been activated.
"Someone in the police station could look at a screen and see exactly where you are," DuVall said.
The other two projects also involve incorporating personal safety devices into student and faculty life in the battle against campus crime.
DuVall hopes that North Carolina schools will share ideas and innovations to make the process of testing and researching safety technology more efficient and productive.
"I think with 16 universities in the UNC system we can all work together to bring down costs," DuVall said.
The Technology Advancement Center's work is crucial to the success of the trials.
"We find the area of need, find the technology needed to address it, and trying to get funding for the pilot programs so that their effectiveness can be determined," DuVall said.
The programs are all nothing more than pilots at this point, but the possibility is open that the measures could eventually be extended to the entire student population.
"We're making progress, and we're going to keep pushing" DuVall said. "The campus is always working on personal safety."