The University of Iowa Department of Public Safety is giving students, faculty, and staff another layer of protection with the help of a mobile application called Hawk Watch.
Hawk Watch, which is powered by the campus safety app Rave Guardian, allows users to invite friends, family, or UI DPS to act as a virtual safety escort, or “guardian,” when they travel from one location to another.
To activate the “guardian” feature, users are prompted to enter an estimated travel time and destination into the app and select a guardian. If the user does not check in or deactivate the safety timer upon arrival at their final destination, the app notifies their guardian and shares their GPS location so the guardian can check on them.
Should a user run in to trouble during their trip, Hawk Watch also includes a panic button feature that gives the user direct access to 9-1-1 or the UI Department of Public Safety depending on their location and proximity to campus.
“This is a tool we’re using to let the UI community know that we’re here, we care about them, and we’re standing by ready to help if they need us,” says Floyd Johnson, emergency management coordinator with UI DPS. “It’s just another layer of protection that students, faculty, and staff can opt into to enhance their personal safety.”
The app, which is available to anyone with a UI email address, also allows users to send anonymous crime tips to UI DPS via text message.
“As technology continues to advance, we’ve realized that many students feel more comfortable text messaging than talking on the phone,” says Johnson. “By giving students access to an application like Hawk Watch, we hope students will feel more comfortable contacting the UI Department of Public Safety, whether it’s to request a guardian, report a crime, or share ideas for how to improve safety on our campus.”
Anyone can use the Rave Guardian app, but users who wish to take advantage of the campus-specific features should use their University of Iowa email address when creating a profile on the app. By doing so, users gain access to the Hawk Watch network, which allows them to call UI DPS directly, choose UI DPS as their guardian, and send anonymous crime tips to UI DPS directly.