by Hayley O’Brien
This summer, Whitworth, along with 150 schools nationwide, joined the BlueLight network.
Not to be confused with the blue light emergency stations located throughout campus, BlueLight is a safety app which, using GPS, connects users to their closest emergency dispatchers and allows selected people to receive updates on the user’s whereabouts, said Ceci Marshall, a BlueLight marketing intern .
Campuses are added to the BlueLight network when the company recognizes a large number of people in an area are using the app or when there are multiple requests made to have the campus added, Marshall said.
Approximately 10 requests were made to the company this summer to add Whitworth to the safety app’s network, Marshall said.
BlueLight consists of two main features: “Request Help” and “On My Way.”
A user who presses “Request Help” is connected to the nearest 911 dispatcher and the location is relayed to the dispatcher as well as displayed at the top of the user’s phone screen, Marshall said.
When a school is added to the BlueLight network, the users who clicked “Request help” on campus are connected directly to campus security and the names of campus buildings are added to the BlueLight network, Marshall said.
The Whitworth campus being added to the BlueLight network means that if a Whitworth student with the app were to use the “Request Help” feature while on campus, campus security would receive a call relaying the student’s location measured by the proximity to a building such as “200 feet from Weyerhaeuser hall.”
Whitworth employs nine security officers, two of whom are on duty at a time, Whitworth security officer Phil Hinckley said.
Hinckley, who has been a security officer at Whitworth for 20 years, said he has never received a call from a student who felt unsafe walking across campus at night.
Most calls the security officers receive are for unlocking doors, Hinckley said.
“Whitworth, believe it or not, is not well known by criminals because most people don’t know where it is,” Hinckley said.
Most student concerns about assault and harassment are taken to leadership in student life, not campus security, Hinckley said.
“I’ve never received a call from someone saying ‘I’ve just been assaulted,’” Hinckley said.
BlueLight’s “On My Way” feature allows a student to enter a destination and select people they want BlueLight to notify via a text message when the individual begins their journey and reaches their destination.
For students on campus who do not feel safe walking across campus, Whitworth offers a safe rides service. The service provides students rides across campus in security vehicles.
Currently there is an average of one to two safe rides per night, Jacquelyn McCord, chief of Whitworth security, said.
Safe rides are used mostly by students who are injured or don’t want to walk in the cold, Hinckley said.
Users who feel unsafe in places other than campus can use the app off campus as well.
The BlueLight app can be used anywhere, such as downtown Spokane.
When users of the app aren’t on campus the “Request Help” feature will connect them to the nearest emergency dispatcher and send the dispatcher the user’s location’s address.
The app is also often used to help students know where they are when they are lost because their location will appear on the phone screen, Marshall said.
The app costs $9.99 a year for students and $19.99 for all other users, according to getbluelight.com.
Contact Hayley O’Brien at email@example.com