8 out of 50: Public Safety app has low download rate

Although the Panther Guardian app is a free safety service for students at Chapman, less than 20 percent of the student body has signed up for the app. Photo by Kali Hoffman, photo editor

The Panther Guardian App is meant to ensure students’ safety and is available to students for free. But only a small number of students use it. Out of 50 students polled, by the Panther only eight knew about the app, most of them freshmen who had heard about it during orientation week.

“I remember hearing about it from orientation week, I don’t remember too much,” said Harsema Michael, an undeclared freshman. “In our orientation groups we talked about both Panther alert and the guardian app. I’ll at least have it on my phone, (but) I’m not sure I’ll need it.”

Only 10 to 20 percent of students use the application, a Rave Guardian product that sends alerts to students’ phones, according to Randy Burba, chief of Public Safety.

The app allows students to access another interface with Public Safety and features a timer that sends an alert to the safety center. If students are walking back to their cars or dorms at night, they can set the timer and mark when they arrive. GPS coordinates on the application also alert Public Safety to students’ locations.

There is a confidential texting capability, where the app makes the user look like they are texting a friend when in fact they are texting Public Safety. Students with medical needs can disclose their requirements should a medical episode arise.

“I have it on my phone, I haven’t used it very much though. I’m a resident advisor (RA) so it was pushed a lot during RA training,” said Mac Francini, a sophomore business major. “I don’t think many people use it, or know about it. I didn’t know about it personally until this year, so I think people are still trying to adopt it.”

Public Safety publicized the app by putting information about it into the Chapman newsletter, having tablings and putting information on the Chapman website. Still, only about 700 to1400 students have downloaded it, out of an undergraduate population of over 7,000.

“Other people use different methods (of communication), like Public Safety speed dial,” Burba said. “Some people prefer to email us directly. Some people call 911. (Safety is) about having lots of different ways and points of intake to meet people’s different needs for getting hold of us. We don’t need 100 percent (participation), but we need a fairly decent percentage to allow people to get help where they need it.”

Burba said that he wants the Chapman community to know Public Safety is always available. “Whatever method you’re comfortable, contact us if you have any concerns. It’s important to do what we can to alleviate situations. We’re here for you and use any method you’re comfortable with,” Burba said.