pennguardian

Penn recently launched the Penn Guardian App created by tech company Rave Communications, which allows students to text anonymous tips to Penn Police.

Photo: Ananya Chandra

With a new app, students can now text anonymous tips to Penn Police.

The anonymous tip function of the Penn Guardian app, among numerous other public safety features, is one of the new ways in which the Division of Public Safety is striving to ensure convenient paths of communication with all members of the Penn community.

The Guardian app, created by tech company Rave Mobile Safety, is a national web-based public safety platform that, when a user signs up with a Penn email, specifies the user’s account to the Penn server.

Registering for Penn Guardian opens many other services from DPS beyond the app itself. The registration process allows members of the community to register all their contact information, emergency contact and allergies into the public safety database. This allows police dispatchers and emergency responders to have all the necessary information on file for students so that they can respond quickly and efficiently in the event of an emergency.

The app offers three main functions: a safety timer, a list of emergency contacts selected by students and general emergency functions linked to DPS.

The safety timer is designed to help students keep in touch with the people they trust if they’re alone or in an unfamiliar place, alerting delineated “guardians” of the student’s whereabouts. The emergency function allows students to make emergency calls to DPS and send anonymous text tips — even messages attached with pictures — if they see something suspicious and the student can’t make a call.

Even with the new virtual escort and anonymous text tip features, DPS always recommends calling the emergency line for a walking escort or calling to report something suspicious when possible, as direct phone communication provides DPS with more information to respond.

“Technology standing alone does nothing,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said. “It’s technology and trained professionals working together.”

The tip function of the app divides tips into a number of categories, including mental health, drug and alcohol-related tips, repair work and m?ore. Students can anonymously report anything from a necessary wellness check on a stressed friend, to a student that appears to be too intoxicated, to simply a light that’s out near their housing or around campus. DPS responds to all text tips and can request more information by text.

The safety timer functions as a virtual escort in which a student can set a timer and select guardians of theirs to be alerted if the timer goes off without the student turning it off themselves with their custom pin number. For example, a student could set a 10-minute timer for their walk home, and have it alert their roommate if the walk takes over 10 minutes and the student isn’t able to deactivate the timer themselves. The timer works in non-emergency situations as well, like in the case of meeting with someone the student doesn’t know or in the case of going on a blind date.

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