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You have probably seen some of the 80 emergency “blue light” phones spread throughout campus. These phones were first installed in 1995, back when pagers were cutting-edge communications technology and very few people carried cell phones. Obviously, technology has improved since then, and the vast majority of 911 calls made on the CU-Boulder campus today come from cell phones.
Over a recent two-year period, we received 235 calls from the “blue light” phones. Of those calls, 91 percent were pranks or hang-ups. That leaves just a handful of legitimate calls, which requested help for minor crimes, liquor law violations, facility maintenance and open-door assistance. During that same two-year timeframe, CUPD received more than 2,700 emergency calls via mobile phones.
In addition to the misuse or lack of use due to better cell phone technology, it is estimated that repairing the 20-year old Code Blue phone system would be cost-prohibitive and may only be a temporary fix in many cases. So, after much consideration, all of the “blue light” phones will be removed during Fall and Winter Breaks. In addition to the removal of the non-working phones, we have decided to launch three new campaigns to increase campus safety.
For the first campaign, we have identified a few routes on campus that are frequently traveled by students during evening hours that historically seen higher incidents of criminal activity. On those paths, we have improved lighting and will be coordinating an increased police presence during their nightly patrols. These paths will be clearly marked and an effort will be made to encourage students to travel on these paths in order to promote safety in numbers.
Next, we partnered with the University of Colorado Student Government to purchase a safety smartphone mobile app called LifeLine. You can read more about its features in this CU-Boulder Today article.
Finally, we have continued to improve the CU-Boulder Alert program by adding a new alerting feature that will allow us to send safety messages to all university owned computers. This system will be made available for downloaded to personal computers as well. The CU-Boulder Alert program is used to provide emergency notifications and timely warning to the campus community. Adding this computer alerting channel will add redundancy to the current ability to text, email, and post information to social media and the CU-Boulder homepage ensuring our safety messages are received by the maximum amount of people.
Please know that the safety of our campus is of the utmost priority and we are constantly looking for ways to better protect everyone who visits our beautiful campus.