OCAD U rolls out Guardly campus safety app as new school term begins

Images of the Guardly app
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 4:00am

(Toronto—August 28, 2012) Students, faculty and staff at OCAD University have an innovative new personal safety tool available to them for free this fall: the Guardly Safe CampusTM mobile application for smartphones.

The new service promises to dramatically impact the accessibility of campus security to students and staff. "Guardly puts our services directly into students' pockets, on a platform they are especially comfortable with," explained Vicki Brown, Director of OCAD U Campus Services & Security.

The rollout is the result of two years of collaboration between OCAD U and the makers of Guardly. The company is a graduate of OCAD U's Mobile Experience Innovation Centre incubator program, where a six-month residency led to the development of the technology's core infrastructure and Guardly's first iPhone app. The software was rigorously tested in a pilot program across campus by student and staff volunteers over the past six months.

The university's campus has expanded in recent years to include 12 buildings along the McCaul and Duncan Street corridor, stretching from Dundas Street in the north to Richmond Street in the south. "Our growth created a need for an innovative approach to campus safety that could transcend physical infrastructure," said Brown. "OCAD University is a leader in the mobile sphere, so it makes us very proud to be the first campus in Canada to offer this new service to our community."

The app works with Guardly CommandTM, a web-based incident management system that helps dispatch personnel to monitor, manage and respond to emergencies within campus boundaries, defined by a geofence. The system provides real-time caller location, identification and profile information, such as allergies, medical conditions, medications and other information specified by a caller in their profile. During an incident, dispatchers can speak with a caller by phone or engage in a conversation by secure instant messaging. For privacy purposes, location tracking is only enabled once a caller triggers an alert.

What's more is that the app isn't limited to use on campus. Outside the OCAD U geofence, the application can be used to notify 9-1-1 services and a caller's personal security network, further extending the value of the service to OCAD U community members. The app also makes it easier for anyone with physical disabilities or sensory impairments to reach help.

Students and employees can register and download Guardly Safe CampusTM for free through the OCAD U website.

About Guardly
Guardly is a platform for emergency communication that facilitates rapid social, mobile and location-aware responses to calls for assistance. An incubator company of OCAD University's Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC), Guardly developed its core infrastructure and its first mobile application for iPhone during its six-month incubation. It was also during this key period that Guardly, through discussions with key personnel at OCAD U's campus security and security teams at other universities, learned about how the technology could help higher educational institutions keep campuses safe. The Guardly app works on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows 7 phones.

About OCAD University (OCAD U)
OCAD University is Canada's "university of imagination." The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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