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App-solutely call for help: UPD releases new app

Florida Gulf Coast University’s police department will begin the launch of its brand-new safety app for smartphones this week. “Guardian Eagle” will provide an easy way to contact the University Police Department or Lee County 911 dispatchers. It will give users a list of contacts including 911 and UPD without having to memorize numbers. The app will not only be available to students, but to faculty, staff and campus visitors.

Signing up takes five to 10 minutes. Users register their accounts and fill out profiles, giving as much information as they choose. People who register can include their vehicle information (and information for any additional vehicle that they might ride in), address (both home and on-campus addresses) and emergency contacts. For faculty members, including an office location and semester schedule is suggested.

When using “Guardian Eagle,” UPD recommends setting up a friend or relative as a guardian. The guardian does not have to have an FGCU email address to sign up. However, this person will have to have the app on their smartphone to be a guardian.

Police Service Technician Dianna Sandora works with UPD as a nighttime dispatcher.

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“When setting up the app, you will have to create a PIN number,” Sandora said. “Before you leave for your destination, you should contact your guardian and let them know where you will be leaving from, and where you are going. You will then need to change the ‘Time Out’ feature on the lock screen of your phone to match the length of time needed to get from your starting point to your destination.”

From there, app-holders open “Guardian Eagle” and select the safety timer. The timer requires both a data plan and a GPS location. Then, users activate a timer and designate a guardian to be contacted if they don’t make it to the destination. At this point, app-users should refrain from talking on the phone or texting, as it may distract them from getting to the destination quickly. Once they arrive, they can disable the timer. If the timer is not disabled, after several reminders, the alarm will go off and both the guardian and UPD will be alerted.

“Guardian Eagle” also comes with a ‘Text Tip’ method. This is located under the emergency button and can be used in any situation where the tipper feels that there is something UPD should be made aware of. Tippers can take a picture or send a text of any suspicious activities that make them feel endangered. Tips can be categorized as disturbances, theft and social media abuse.

According to Cory Mentzer, Student Government vice president, the app will cost UPD $4,000 each year.

The app is available for Android and Apple smartphones. People who wish to register should search for Rave Mobile Safety. Once the app is downloaded, users can enter their school email address to access the features of “Guardian Eagle.”

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