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The Penn Guardian app is a public safety app that provides first responders personalized additional information about callers. 

Credit: Ananya Chandra , Ananya Chandra

Imagine driving toward campus when you get in a car accident in an unfamiliar location in the city. Penn Police has an app for that.

The Penn Guardian app is a mobile public-safety app developed through a summer 2015 collaboration between Penn’s Division of Public Safety and developers Rave Guardian. The app includes the ability for users to identify themselves through a profile attached to their phone number, which allows the Penn Police to identify and retrieve personalized information about each registered caller.

“The more information we have in front of us at the time, it enables us to dispatch whatever we need to dispatch in a more efficient and timely manner,” Manager of PennComm Operations Matthew Corcoran said.

He mentioned one instance where a Penn student was lost on the Schuylkill Expressway after a car accident and requested help from Penn Police. Because she registered with the Penn Guardian app, Penn Police could pinpoint her location and coordinate with Pennsylvania State Police to get her assistance.

The profile function of the app not only allows DPS to know the caller’s name and location, but it also integrates a medical profile with necessary information pertaining to severe allergies or medical conditions such as epilepsy.

“If you’re having a severe allergic reaction and you had put that information in your profile, the dispatch call taker will see that information right then and there,” PennComm IT project manager Robert Curry said. “You’re compiling all this essential information right there into your phone number for when you call us.”

The app also allows students to use a virtual walking escort service equipped with a timer that can alert Penn Police or friends and family when a student arrives safely at a location. Users can send in tips with pictures via text message through the app to DPS, regarding anything from drug or alcohol-related incidents and mental health reports to theft and disturbances.

“The thing that is great about Penn Guardian in general is that first responders are given additional information that really helps them to do a much more effective response to the individual who called,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said. “They’re not walking into something blindly.”

DPS recommends that students register for the app with their Penn email address to be instantly added to the Penn-specific Guardian system.

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