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Aston takes safety app

Aston University in central Birmingham, has selected a security and safety communications product for students and staff on campus and those travelling globally. SafeZone, from CriticalArc, will put users in touch with the university’s security control room using their mobile phone, enabling them to request help, trigger an emergency response, and receive notifications in the event of emergencies, besides more customer-care services.

SafeZone was selected after a detailed comparison of alternative systems, says Mark Sutton, Head of Security and Emergency Planning at Aston. He says: “While some alternatives offered individual features that were attractive, none of them combined all the functions and benefits in the way that SafeZone does. What we are investing in is a comprehensive solution that allows our security team to engage much more closely with students and staff, and to work in a more integrated way with the university’s various departments and within its senior management structure. It also gives us important additional functions including lone worker protection and resource management capabilities.”

The product lets Aston’s control room operators pin-point the locations of individuals who elect to check-in using an app on their smart phones, including staff, students, service users and members of the security team. App users can call for advice, reporting suspicious activity; and in return security teams can send out alerts and safety instructions to groups or individuals, in specific locations, as individuals or by specified user type.

Officers doing emergency response can also monitor activity patterns of those who choose to check-in, seeing where people are gathering during an incident for example. And they can co-ordinate resources, keeping track of where known first aiders are, or seeing exactly how team members are deployed, minute by minute.

At Aston University the students’ union, staff and department heads were fully engaged in the roll-out of the new system, the uni adds. Mark Sutton adds: “Safety is a big issue, particularly for city centre campuses. Prospective students and parents want to know how well we look after our community, so we see SafeZone as an important new benefit.”


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