/// MyForce: A Panic-Button App for the Campus

December 8, 2011  |  All Things Digital


Today’s shootings at Virginia Tech are another reminder that, despite a relatively new mandate for universities to provide student communities with timely warnings in the event of danger, danger could still occur, leaving those involved feeling helpless. One security company has been looking to the one device many students have in their hands at all times — their smartphone — to see if a one-touch security app could mean even faster response times. Colorado-based MyForce has developed the MyForce Campus System, and a compatible mobile app, for university safety officials to receive alerts placed within campus borders. It provides access to such details as a student’s location, health conditions and emergency contacts. The app works on iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones. The app overrides the phone’s lock feature so, as long as the user has the MyForce app open, the interface will always be accessible, though the screen may dim a bit. If a user is in imminent danger, he or she can press the large button featured on the app that sends an immediate notification to MyForce and to campus security officials (provided that they are equipped to use the MyForce monitoring software). MyForce also begins to pinpoint the user’s GPS location and record streaming audio from the phone. (MyForce says this information remains private in the company’s database, aside from sharing it with law enforcement officials at the time of the emergency. It can also be submitted as evidence of a crime later on.) When the user sends an alert, the phone vibrates and also prompts the user to enter a PIN code — so if it’s a misfire that the user didn’t mean to send, he or she can disarm the app by entering in the PIN. At that point, MyForce says it then stops tracking the user. “The one thing students always have in their hands these days is a smartphone,” said Brad Zotti, MyForce’s co-founder. The idea for the app occurred to him when he was visiting a college campus and thought about integrating the “blue light” emergency phone stands into a mobile phone

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MyForce: A Panic-Button App for the Campus


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