If a new, free system that turns cell phones into safety devices and had the potential to save people from life-threatening situations was brought to a university, would you expect students to rush and register their cell phones? Rave Guardian is that system and only a small number of Stony Brook University students and staff members have registered their cell phones.

The system was implemented at the university on June 26, 2011 and 1,256 people registered. The Stony Brook police department said that they think that the majority of those people were seniors because in the Fall 2011 semester the number of people registered went down by 40 percent. There are now only 700 people at the university walking around with a safety system on their cell phones.

Many students and staff members are unaware that Rave Guardian exists and that is why the amount of people registered is so low. The police department has realized that and started to make efforts to inform students about the system.

“We’re really trying to increase the awareness and to really make a big push because there’s no reason not to have it,” Assistant Chief of Police Lawrence Zacarese said.

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The department has partnered with Communications to inform more students and staff members about the system. A few of the ways they have tried to create awareness included sending out notifications and campus announcements about the system for two consecutive weeks, putting a Rave Guardian banner on the university website homepage, tweeting about the system on Twitter, putting up posts about it on Facebook and talking to campus media about it. The department is hoping that all of the efforts they have been making will pay off and the amount of people registered will skyrocket.

SUNY Oswego implemented the system in 2007 and around 3,500 students are registered in 2012. The SUNY Oswego police department has noticed that the best approach to create awareness is through personal outreach. Chief of Police Cynthia Adam has prepared a PowerPoint presentation for the past five years every summer and winter session for all new students and their parents. The presentation covers university police services including Rave Guardian. Although many students registered in the system,  it does not get used often because the campus is very safe.

“It’s good that we have it as a ready tool for our students to use but we’re fortunate that we haven’t had students need to use it,” Adam said.

Even though it does not get used often, students can walk around campus with a safety device in their pockets if they need it.

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Over 500 campuses in the nation are currently using Rave Mobile Safety products.

“I would say that the growth of Rave Guardian is pretty significant across college campuses and I think you’ll very quickly see a scenario where you have to have it because the parents and incoming freshmen will be asking if there is Rave Guardian on campus,” Raju Rishi, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Rave Mobile Safety, said.

Rishi said that the reason why so many college campuses have turned to Rave Guardian is because they have found that blue-light phones are ineffective. Zacarese said that blue-light phones are hardly ever used on campus and there are some that have never been used. There are 168 blue-light phones on campus but the department has found out that students would rather call the department on their cell phone during an emergency than run to a blue-light phone. Although the department feels that Rave Guardian is more effective than blue-light phones, they are not going anywhere. The university has invested too much money into the phones and won’t be getting rid of them. Instead, Rave Guardian is a cheaper supplement to them and another way for the department to communicate with students and staff members.

The decision to bring Rave Guardian to the university was an easy one for the police department. “In an effort to cover the whole campus and leverage the technology that everybody has, this was a no brainer solution,” said Zacarese. The system is in its infant phase after only being implemented at the university in June 2011. The department still has more work to do to create awareness about the system. Zacarese said that he is confident that the system works at the university after doing multiple tests and it will remain to be another element in the growing list of ways that the department communicates with students and staff members.

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