New blue lights shine for improved safety measures
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 01:09
A series of renovated emergency call boxes were installed on Miami’s campus during the summer to replace the thirty outdated, yellow call boxes that existed before.
Information Technology (IT) Network Engineering Manager Tim Gruenhagen said the plan to install the new blue light emergency phone system on campus began in April 2013. Each new light pole will cost an estimated $11,000 and, depending on the actual installation costs, IT Services will install up to twenty lights.
According to the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) Lieutenant Ben Spilman, the new blue lights not only replace dated emergency phone boxes, but also offer new safety features.
“Those devices still offer the one push button call to the police department, but they also feature the blue light…they’re also equipped with wireless access features,” Spilman said.
He added that the blue lights provide the convenience of expanded Wi-Fi access outdoors.
Associated Student Government (ASG) secretary for On-Campus Student Affairs senior Cole Tyman said ASG passed the Emergency Phone Kiosks Initiative in spring 2013 to support the installation of the new emergency phone system.
Tyman said one of the important features of the blue lights is the external emergency speakers. He said, in case of any emergency, the university can broadcast information from speakers reaching up to five hundred feet.
“The emergency response function is a really good deterrent for what goes on on-campus,” Tyman said.
Although Spilman said MUPD did not regularly receive calls in the past, phone boxes still play a vital role.
“They provide a feeling of security for the person who is jogging and doesn’t have their cell phone with them,” Spilman said.
Tyman also said he sees a need to have an upgraded system in case of emergency.
“Obviously, they’re ten feet tall blue lights as opposed to the yellow boxes,” Tyman said. “I think it’s better to have something and not need it than need something…there are situations peoples’ phones die, they lose phones. You just have those situations where the one time you need the police, you don’t have it.”
Sophomore Julia Prus said she feels better seeing the blue lights at night.
“At other campuses I visited, they definitely had them and even had more,” Prus said. “I don’t walk alone, but it makes me feel better if I have to.”
While prank calls and false alarms have been a concern at other college campuses with blue lights, like The Ohio State University, Spilman said he does not anticipate too many prank calls despite the more noticeable facilities.
“We do respond to any activations to those call boxes…Of course, if someone does make a prank call to that, it is a criminal offense,” he said. “We anticipate that they’re really here for emergency calls.”
The new system not only improves safety, but Spilman said it replaces a system that was difficult to fix.
“We’ve always had emergency call boxes on Miami’s campus…Their only function was a one button phone call to the police department, but parts of them were not readily available for repairs,” Spilman said.
Spilman said the new emergency phone system fits better with a changing campus than the old yellow phone boxes.
“As much construction was on campus as well, they might not have been in the best location on campus,” he said.
In addition, Spilman said the blue lights fit better with IT Services’ capabilities.
“They are compatible with the current phone system,” Spilman said.
Spilman said he wants students to call at the slightest sign of emergency.
“If there is someone acting suspiciously, we want someone to call and report that, certainly,” he said.