New app helps UWM students stay safe

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is adding an optional program to its alert system this spring that allows students to dial an emergency number with one push of a button or choose a “guardian” to virtually walk them home.

The Rave Guardian app is available free to students and staff who choose to add it to the university’s existing Safe Alert program. That current system is used to send text and/or email to all students, faculty and staff in case of an emergency.

The Rave Guardian app can be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. The app, which is customized to the university when the user enters their UWM information, includes a number of features beyond the safety alert.

One is a Guardian timer, which allows a student who is traveling alone to connect with a friend or relative to let them know when they are leaving, where they’re heading somewhere and when they expect to arrive. If the timer isn’t turned off when the student arrives, the friend can contact the student or police.

“If you’re walking home alone from the library after dark and expect to be back in 15 minutes, you can alert a friend and turn on the timer,” UWM Police Chief Joseph LeMire said.

UWM police advise students to use the B.O.S.S. (Be on the Safe Side) service or the campus’ Safe Walker escorts, or to walk in groups in well-lit areas, especially after dark.  “But that’s not always possible,” LeMire said. “You may not have somebody to walk with you. The app gives you the ability to have somebody remotely watch you.”

The RAVE Guardian app also includes features that allow students to:

  • Contact Milwaukee 911 or Campus Police (414-229-9911) with one push of the button. The system will automatically give their location.
  • Text police dispatchers (anonymously if they prefer) if they see something suspicious or even potentially dangerous. The dispatchers will be able to text back.
  • Users can program in personal information, such as what kind of car they drive, emergency contacts, campus employment and health information. Entering the information is optional but could be helpful for someone with a medical condition like epilepsy or diabetes. “Even if they weren’t able to talk, we could potentially dispatch an ambulance right away,” LeMire said.
  • The Rave Guardian app will be customized for UWM and will include information and contacts for helpful campus websites like the Title IX, UWM Police Department, UWM Victim/Survivor Advocacy and others.

Additional information and training material can be found on the UWM Police website.

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