The NIU Police Department has begun phasing out emergency call boxes on campus in order to transition to the NIU Safe app. A planned dismantling of telephone booths will take place over the next two semesters. The features of the NIU Safe app seem useful, but if students don’t actually download the app, the NIU Safe app will fall short compared to emergency call boxes, which were readily available to everyone.
The need for emergency call boxes has declined significantly due to the proliferation of cell phones, said Lisa Miner, associate vice president of corporate communications and chief communications strategist. The app allows students to continue to walk away from danger rather than feeling the need to stay near the emergency call box waiting for help.
The NIU Safe app has features like “Mobile Blue Light” which can send police to a user’s location with just the press of a button and Safe Walk which allows police to monitor your walk to make sure to arrive safely at your destination.
These features seem useful, but if students don’t actually download the app, the NIU Safe app will fall short of emergency call boxes, which were readily available to everyone.
Currently, only 4,837 people have downloaded the NIU Safe app, Miner said. A total of 16,234 students enrolled for fall 2021, based on 10-day enrollment data.
It’s unclear if the 4,837 people who downloaded the app are NIU students, but even if they are, that would mean that only 29% of students downloaded the app.
Although the Northern Star editorial board recognizes the need to adapt safety features on campus as technology advances, the university needs to sufficiently promote the NIU Safe app before emergency call boxes are not completely removed.
If the university doesn’t better market the NIU Safe app by the time emergency call boxes are completely removed, assuming everyone who downloaded the app is a student, nearly 71% of students will walk around campus without call boxes and apps.
“NIU continues to encourage all Huskies to download and use the NIU Safe app and help spread the word about it so they and our entire community can stay informed and protected,” a statement read. of the University.
The NIU Safe app is marketed in a variety of ways, such as during new student orientation, through the NIU OneBook, the NIU website, the Huskie Connections newsletter, and with posts in private Facebook groups to the classes of 2022 through 2025, Miner said. .
The methods chosen by NIU to market the app are ideal for new students, but students who have been on campus for years do not participate in orientation and likely do not have access to a OneBook. If these students are not active on Facebook, they might miss learning the NIU Safe app entirely.
Before the emergency call boxes are completely removed, the number of students who have downloaded the application must increase considerably. Because such a small percentage of students have downloaded the app, it appears that the university’s current efforts are not enough. Although the university cannot force anyone to download the app, it is their responsibility to market the app appropriately and ensure that all students understand its importance.