Guardly study: Safety app can speed up campus security response times

Toronto startup Guardly says its mobile safety solution cut response times to campus emergencies almost in half during a pilot study at a downtown university in the city.

Guardly undertook the study with the unnamed Toronto university (whichwas already a Guardly customer) to find out just how effective itssolution – the Guardly Mobile App combined with the Guardly Commandonline monitoring and response management system – could really be inhelping campus security forces respond to various incidents.

“Is there a benefit to this system? We want to prove that in an actual(security incident) scenario we do yield those types of results,” saidGuardly CEO Josh Sookman.

Guardly previously told ITBusiness.ca that it would be conducting a pilot program of its service with OCAD University. That was confirmed by OCAD’s manager of campus security in January, who said 20 managers would be testing Guardly’s Safe Campus on a daily basis for several weeks.

In the study, 27 real life security incidents that took place at theschool in 2011 were simulated during a two or three-week period thisyear in re-enactments using the Guardly solution. The datameasured howquickly campus security responded to the simulated incidents using theGuardly system compared with the real incidents when the Guardly appwas not used.

“So basically we recreated those incidents with the campus securitydepartment. The goal was really to make it as similar as possible (tothe original real-life incidents),” Sookman said.

The use of the Guardly system cut response times by 44 per cent versusthe actual real life incidents, which included medical incidents,harassment, assault and suspicious person reports. There was a net timesavings of eight minutes and ten seconds per incident.

The types of personal data about app users provided to security staffby the Guardly system (such as allergies, medical conditions andmedication use) also helped them respond sooner. Responders usedGuardly data on the user’s location and personal profile in 100 percent of the simulated incidents, followed by direct one-to-one calling(used in 89 per cent of cases), secure instant messaging (44 per cent)and photo sharing (33 per cent).

The key, Sookman said, is that the data is personalized for each appuser to make the security officer’s job easier in assessing thesituation and appropriate response.

A personalized security app
“We want to make it more accessible but also more personalized so theyknow your name, physical description, medical conditions and otherthings without having to cross reference another system. So there’s alot of immediate information provided to dispatchers.”

Guardly won’t disclose how many universities are currently using itssolution, with Sookman saying only that “we have a number of customersand we have a number of pilot (studies) as well.”

Guardly’s solution does include the ability for app users to send out mass emergency alerts to several people at once, but that feature has not been enabled at the university which did the pilot study. A similar function allowing a dispatch centre to send mass alerts to app users is also offered by Ottawa’s Amika Mobile.

Will the proliferation of mobile emergency apps give users a falsesense of security or lead them to take unsafe risks?

“You start to create a campus where it’s much easier for people to lookafter each other in some sort of way. It will deter would-be criminalsbecause they know how easy it is to be caught,” Sookman said. “It’ssomething we’re setting out to prove.”

Christine WongChristineWong is a Staff Writer at ITBusiness.ca and CDN. E-mail her at cwong@itbusiness.ca,connect on Google+,follow her on Twitter,and join in the conversation on the IT BusinessFacebook Page.
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