A smart phone can substitute for a personal escort for students walking alone at the University of San Francisco. The virtual safety escort system is called Pathlight and was just launched at the California institution by CBORD, a provider of campus card and security solutions.
Pathlight, which gives students quick access to extra security resources via their smart phones, is an application for Apple and Android devices allowing students to opt in to GPS tracking services for their phones. The phone interface requires three steps by the user:
- Select a destination (dorm room, library).
- Select the expected walking trip duration (10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.).
- Select “Follow Me” to begin transmitting location information to campus dispatchers or security office personnel.
If more time is needed, students can update their expected arrival times. If a student feels in immediate danger at any time, a help button will notify dispatchers of the student’s location and need for assistance.
Once transmission begins, dispatchers see icons for each student on a map with live tracking. The map shows the traveler and route taken. If a student requests help, does not meet his/her arrival time or if one of several other criteria are met (sudden high travel speed, wrong direction, etc.), an alarm brings the student’s location and information to a dispatchers’ attention.
Because it’s integrated with CBORD’s CS Gold campus card system, Pathlight provides greater situational awareness than a standalone GPS tracking solution. Location information for card usage and devices in CS Gold is correlated with the location information from Pathlight. In addition to a student’s location, dispatchers have access to the student’s ID card photo and contact information, and even nearby cameras where available.
Students without a smart phone, or even a cell phone, can still use the university’s physical escort services. Pathlight does not replace those services, but rather serves as another option when a student wants some extra monitoring but doesn’t feel the need for an in-person escort, said a CBORD spokesperson.