This article was updated on May 5, 2013.
Editor's Note: Douglas Everson, Jr. is a Maroon staffer.
A new app protects both students and their smartphones from the dangers of walking home alone at night.
Pathlight, released earlier this quarter, lets students activate their phones so that UCPD can keep track of their location as they walk, find their phone if it is stolen, and answer distress calls placed directly through the app.
Students can download the app from the App Store for iPhones or from Google Play for Android devices. Once authenticated, students set their destination and estimated travel time anytime they feel unsafe walking around campus. The UCPD monitors students’ progress with live tracking, and the app alerts dispatchers if students do not meet their arrival time, start walking in the wrong direction, or attain an abnormally high travel speed, as well as other indicators of suspicious activity.
To minimize accidental calls, a five-minute warning alerts users before the timer goes off, allowing the student to extend the time if needed. If a student does not turn off the timer, they will receive a phone call from UCPD making sure they reached their destination safely.
SG Vice President of Administration Douglas Everson called the app a “mobile blue light.” He said the Pathlight app is neither part of a specific initiative to increase security on campus nor the result of increased crime rates.
“UCPD is always looking for new ways of increasing security,” he said. “They approached the company [who created the app].”
According to UCPD representative Bridget Malone, if the Pathlight App receives enough positive feedback by the end of its pilot phase on June 15, it will be made available to faculty and staff as well.