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Call boxes being retired as phone app provides better tools

September 20, 2021

The superior safety tools available through the NIU SAFE App mean that the familiar “Blue Light” call boxes will soon be disappearing from campus.

“Today, the best emergency call box you can have, is the cell phone in your hand, with the NIU Safe App on it,” said NIU Acting Chief of Police Darren Mitchell.

This product, developed by AppArmor, is used by hundreds of higher education institutions and millions of students across the globe. It provides members of the campus community access to features like the Friend Walk, Safe Walk and Mobile Blue Light.

The black pillars, topped with blue lights that flashed when activated, have been part of the campus safety network for more than 25 years, Mitchell said. “They were once the state-of-the-art in campus safety, but improvements provided by tools like the NIU Safe App are making them obsolete.”

They will not be missed, however, because the NIU Safe App is far superior. For instance, the Friend Walk feature allows users to let friends virtually monitor them as they walk to a destination and then instantly summon police to their location should trouble arise, Mitchell said. He noted that the Safe Walk feature takes that to an even higher level, allowing users to let a police dispatcher monitor their progress as they walk home.

Finally, the Mobile Blue Light that is part of the app is more useful than the call boxes because, once activated, it allows police to find the individual who activates the alarm no matter where they go. “The call boxes direct us to a specific location, but if you leave that spot, we cannot find you. The mobile app will lead us right to you, even if you stay on the move.”

Also, Mitchell points out, all of the features of the app, including Safe Walk, Friend Walk, Mobile Blue Light and others – work not just on campus but also throughout the off-campus neighborhoods where many students live.

“It’s a superior safety tool in every way and we strongly urge all members of the campus community to download it and use it,” Mitchell said.

The app is available for download through the Apple Store and the Google Play store.