A mobile app in compliance with the Jeanne Cleary Act that let students and faculty members press a panic button when in danger. The alert uses the phone’s GPS coordinates and sends them to an Azure hosted web server that displays the alert on a map.
The University of Puerto Rico at Humacao (UPRH) is a regional public school located in the municipality of Humacao on the East coast of Puerto Rico. It has 600 staff members and 3,500 students.
The federal Jeanne Cleary Act outlines the requirements for security reporting and threat notification that schools must meet in order to participate in federal financial aid programs. A key provision of the act specifies that schools must issue timely warnings to students and staff when there is a dangerous situation on campus.
UPRH is located in an economically depressed region of Puerto Rico, and more than half of its students come from families living below the poverty line. As a result, the university holds an essential role in the region and takes pride in its academic success. Beyond ensuring student safety, a robust security policy can directly impact students’ ability to afford their education.
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Humacao” case study.
When UPRH noticed a 64% increase in campus crime—the school realized they urgently needed to overhaul its security policies and find a better way for people to signal for help. They needed to improve security with policies and technology. The spike in crime at UPRH was attributed partly to the university’s building access policies.
The University of Puerto Rico at Humacao wanted to reduce crime and improve compliance with federal campus security rules. The main drawback faced is that the campus covers 62 acres, therefore students and staff do not necessarily have quick access to emergency exits and alert buttons.
In 1994, UPRH installed some security call boxes. In a dangerous situation, anyone can press an emergency button to call.
In a new technology era, the university bets on innovation and included their customized version of Social Alert, UPRH Alert, in its security plan.
Users only needed to download the free application and press a button on their devices that would send out an alert that is routed through a web server hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The alert uses GPS to pinpoint the user’s location, enabling the school’s security team to dispatch an officer quickly for further investigations.
Due to the sensitive nature of the data transmitted through the UPRH Alert system—including details about students and potential criminal activity—the new alert system had to adhere to strict privacy standards. At the same time, the university needed it to be affordable as well. The UPRH Alert met both criteria by routing user notifications through a web server hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, where the university would pay for computing resources only when it needs them.
With the system in place, the UPRH security team uses a monitoring portal that includes a dashboard built with Microsoft Azure SQL Database to generate statistical reports. Team members have found the app to be very instinctual to use, and they are pleased with the way it helps them respond to incidents. The officers now have tablets that enable them to monitor the portal from anywhere on campus and respond even more quickly. With UPRH Alert, the authorized users can also generate reports on types of crime, crime locations, and what sort of assistance was required, so they can visualize the data and fine-tune our procedures.
In addition to enabling security alerts, the app also provides UPRH with a new way to contact staff and students in case of an emergency or unexpected school closure, and it satisfies the Jeanne Clery Act. Alongside traditional methods such as contacting local radio stations and sending email to student accounts, UPRH can now send an instant alert to all app users from the monitoring dashboard.
“We wanted to have our own version of Social Alert in the UPR Humacao Campus. We wanted to have the security topic covered so we can focus on other matters. INVID made that possible within weeks.”
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