The Personal Alert Device is small enough to be carried on a key chain or necklace and will link participants with campus police in the event of an emergency.
"It's really needed and I think we can make a difference with it," said J. Barry DuVall, director of ECU's Center for Wireless and Mobile Computing, which helped develop the technology.
The device can locate a person within 12 feet of their location, unlike cell phones, which cannot identify location as accurately. The technology initiative is in response to an effort to boost campus security in the University of North Carolina's 16-campus system after several assaults. ECU staff is testing the devices identify and minimize problems such as the potential for false alarms and human errors.
DuVall said the cost of the program is minimal because the technology will be incorporated into already existing systems. The program has the potential to expand to other UNC campuses as well as the institutions throughout the country, he said. The initiative caps off a series of recent safety measures implemented at ECU, including video monitoring for all residence halls, increased police patrols and the restriction of access to residence halls.
Garrie Moore, vice chancellor for student life, said the personal alert devices are another layer in the university's overall emphasis on campus safety.
"Students expect us to be prepared to address their needs," he said. "Whether they need a ride or have an imminent safety concern, it's important that we respond quickly."
The university's focus on safety will be the subject of a conference on the Personal Alert Campus Safety Project, Nov. 18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Murphy Center. Representatives from all 16 UNC campuses and the Office of the President have been invited to attend.
Research on safety measures at UNC universities and other institutions in the country will be presented at the conference. In addition, vendors will demonstrate safety products. Members of the media are welcome to attend.
ECU News Bureau