An innovative piece of BlackBerry technology developed by a group of engineering students at Yale University could add another dimension to campus safety.
The free smartphone application called BScope Mobile was launched just over two weeks ago, and allows BlackBerrys to use raw GPS data to provide highly accurate information on the movements of the phone's owner.
The technology was born out of '08 Yale alumna Anna Yu's senior project, in which she collaborated with the Behavior Scope Project at the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Although many tracking services for BlackBerrys and iPhones already exist-, the new technology is unique in that it can communicate complex geographical information without explicit commands from the user.
As such, the major security advantage of the application is in providing a "virtual escort" for students making their way to a preset destination.
For example, a student studying late in the Van Pelt Library could program in their destination at the beginning of their walk home.
At regular points along the way, messages would be automatically sent to preset numbers - friends, family or possibly even a security official - notifying the recipient of the user's progress.
The smartphone would finally send out a notification that the user had arrived safely at their destination.
The application also includes a panic feature which, when activated, sends out accurate details of a user's location to preset numbers.
Although Yale Security is in preliminary talks with the application's developers over possible future collaboration, Penn's Division of Public Safety is wary of embracing the new technology.
"New security technologies surface on the market every day," said Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, "All of which purport to have advanced and innovative capabilities to keep people safe."
Rush added that while DPS will continue to follow the progress of BScope Mobile and assess its benefits to the Penn community, "DPS already works to develop its own state-of-the-art security technology through its national security vendor, ADT AI."
Penn students also seemed reluctant to fully endorse the new technology.
"It sounds a bit like Big Brother to me," said College junior Julie McClain, "And besides, just calling people to say you're on your way isn't such a big deal."
College junior Kelly Logan added that the application "sounds helpful in theory, but if you walking five blocks means your friends all get a load of texts, then it seems a bit excessive."Comments powered by Disqus
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