Last spring, while trying to work on the emergency alert system, Utah State University sent out a false active shooter alert to students, faculty and families. The university’s executive director of public safety Earl Morris explained that the institution has since made it their goal to finalize updates for a better emergency alert system.
“The university was looking at improving the mass notifications with the students long before the false code blue alert they had in the early spring. It simply accelerated the process after that incident,” Morris said.
The university has created a new app called Utah State Safe. Anyone who registers and downloads the app will be able to receive Code Clue alerts, and use the other safety features at any moment.
“The app really creates kind of an essential focal point for safety on campus - everything that you might need in regards to safety is going to be on the app, and were also adding additional features," said Amanda DeRito, Utah State’s director of crisis communication and issue management.
For example: if a student is walking home late at night, they are able to activate what is called Friend Walk. With Friend Walk, students can notify a friend with the app, which will send their friend a link to their location. They will then be able to watch the student walk home on a map via GPS.
In addition to Friend Walk, if a student is in danger and they cannot talk on the phone, the app will include a feature where the student can send out an emergency alert to a dispatcher at the touch of a button and it will alert local police of the student’s name and location.
Although the university will still be sending out Code Blue alerts through email and text message, the Utah State Safe app runs off of Wi-Fi or cell service, which makes it more accessible than the Code Blue alerts ever were before.