Ithaca College has launched a new app component of its emergency notification system, the Rave Guardian mobile app.
The app is an extension of the college’s Alert Emergency Notification System and allows users to get push notifications on their cellphones from the college, as well as access to emergency resources. The app is available for students, faculty and staff at the college and requires a college email address to register for an account. The Rave Guardian services are available through cellular service or with an internet connection, a system that allows campus community members who are on or off campus to use the services.
Users can access phone numbers for internal resources, like the Department of Public Safety, the Hammond Health Center, Information Technology Service Desk, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Title IX Office, the LQBTQ+ Center, the Center for Inclusion Diversity Equity and Social Change (IDEAS) and the Office of Facilities. Users can also access external services, like websites and phone numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the Ithaca Advocacy Center Sexual and Relationship Violence Hotline and the local 911 dispatch.
The college’s emergency notification systems allow outside visitors and family members to receive emergency notifications from the college without access to a college login system. Visitors and family members can receive notifications through an IC Alert text, which is separate from the Rave Guardian mobile app.
Bill Kerry, director of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said that the development of the app started in Spring 2018 after the college did an assessment of emergency preparedness on campus. He said the college signed the contract with Rave Mobile Safety in 2019, spent several months developing the app with Guardian and had a soft launch of the app in Fall 2020, after a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve had a lot of presentations and different communications that have gone out this past month, trying to promote the use of the app, and without a lot of pressure,” Kerry said. “You know it’s there if people want to use it, and we obviously encourage it for a lot of different reasons.”
Elyse Nepa, Clery Act and Crime Prevention Coordinator, said that the switch to the app was a collaboration between Information Technology, the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, College Communications and the Core Emergency Response Team (CERT).
She said the college can use Rave as its primary emergency notification system and Rave Guardian app cost less money than the previous vendor, Blackboard.
“The prior vendor that we were using was not able to provide these additional forms of communication and the app itself,” Nepa said. “So there’s just really good work done by the committee to put this together, not just the benefits of it, but actually less cost.”
The timer function on the app allows users to set a safety timer and invite a friend or family member to virtually escort them to and from an on-campus or off-campus location. Nepa said that she thinks the Guardian timer is a good resource for students, especially students who are new to the area and like to spend time away from campus.
“It’s a very versatile app and it really does depend on your lived experiences and the way that you want to use it,” Nepa said. “You can use it in so many ways that it changes from person to person.”
Junior Danielle Castellano said she was following the rollout of the app since her freshman year and was excited to see it finally move forward out of the development stage. Castellano said she works as the senior resident assistant (RA) for lower Terraces and would recommend the app to other students and her residents.
“I think especially for first years, this would be a really helpful app, because again, all the resources are in one place,” Castellano said. “And it’s just another safety measure that they could always take. Especially because it might be, for first years, their first time being away from home. They’re in a new environment, they don’t really know it that well yet.”
She also said she would suggest adding an option to add the numbers of RAs on duty within the emergency resources.
“I hope that it gets encouraged and brought to first–year communities and all around campus,” Castellano said. “But I even think this might be something that I hope the college would explore during orientation, and maybe doing a session for first years about it, so the app name gets out there. It’s so user–friendly, it’s very easy to use. I just think that that’s something that will be really helpful in promoting safety on campus.”