By Meghan Feir
In an effort to create an even safer environment, Minnesota State University Moorhead is the first campus (college or corporate) in Minnesota utilizing the BlueLight app, a safety feature for mobile devices that enables users to send immediate distress signals to Public Safety and 911 when in need of assistance.
Parking and key and card access coordinator Shane Kelly said that Public Safety’s job is “to make sure that when you’re here, you’re comfortable and you’re safe. This is your way to take Public Safety or the police in your pocket at any time, anywhere.”
When app users are off campus, the distress signal is programmed to reach out to 911. By accessing your location, the success rate of help quickly reaching those who need it is much higher than relying on tower locations.
“The current standards for safety haven’t caught up to the fact that everyone is walking around with a smartphone in their pocket,” BlueLight CEO and founder Preet Anand said. “If someone needs help, BlueLight gets them the fastest help by routing their call to the nearest responders and providing those responders with essential information, like the caller’s location.”
With features such as “on my way,” reassuring the caller that an officer is coming to their assistance, BlueLight is designed to bring comfort to people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Prior to the Californian company’s inception, Anand was astonished by the statistics regarding sexual assaults on college campuses, which eventually prompted the idea for BlueLight. “Early 2013 is when we started the company, and we made a shift to its current form in the middle of 2014,” Anand said.
The young company is expanding their reach beyond the West Coast. Marquette University in Wisconsin has been one of BlueLight’s main clients, and MSUM is the second campus in the Midwest to utilize the app.
“Shane was key to making this happen,” MSUM Vice President Jan Mahoney said. “I charged Shane with conducting some research and he found the app. The app is a real-time, right-time solution for our campus community that will provide an anytime, anywhere response.”
BlueLight currently works with almost 40 campuses across the country and is expecting to expand over the summer. Anand said additional features are always in the works to improve campus and personal safety.
“(The app) is our way of getting help to students when they need it,” Kelly said, “in case they can’t leave where they are, they’re sheltered in place somewhere, or they don’t feel safe.”
The free BlueLight app only accesses users’ locations when open and is available for iOS 8 and android 4.2 and above.