February 5, 2013

iPhone App Connects Students to Emergency Services

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Observing that Cornell students face potentially dangerous situations — such as walking home alone late at night from the library or from a party — a group of students have created an iPhone application that they hope will increase their peers’ safety.

The students’ app, ResCUer, provides users easy access to the phone numbers of University resources such as the Cornell University Police Department and Gannett Health Services, according to Matt Joe ’14, a student who worked on the app.

Joe and a team of students created the iPhone app in December when they realized that there was no resource that allowed convenient access to important emergency contacts. The team is now a week away from releasing an app for Android phones, according to Joe.

“It is just a one-stop shop for every single emergency number. The way I see it is, Cornell provides all of these really useful resources, and we’ve created a really simple way to access [all of] them,” Joe said. “Gannett and the administration put up posters saying ‘Put these numbers in your phone,’ but not every student actually copies them down.”

The app’s home screen presents two options to users on its main screen: “Get help” and “Go home.”

A user who touches the “Get help” option is linked to various emergency services numbers, including that of the CUPD, Gannett and the Blue Light Services, according to Joe. A user who touches the “Go home” option is linked to the numbers of Blue Light Services and local taxi companies.

Users can also insert the phone numbersof close friends into the app so that, if they touch the app’s “Call a friend” option, they can quickly call friends when in need.

The app’s design was meant to make ResCUer “really simple” and easy to use, said Matthew Laks ’15, another student who worked on the app.

“Say you are intoxicated at a party. … You should still be able to use it,” Laks said.

The app is also meant to be used by all students on campus, according to Joe.

“We realized the audience is literally everyone, because anyone could face an emergency [at] any time,” Joe said.

The app may help increase safety for students who are walking home from the library or other places on campus late at night, said Anisha Chopra ’13, representative at-large for the Student Assembly.

Referring to the multiple reports of sexual attacks last fall, Chopra said that “it’s become clear that we have a lot of services on campus and resources for help … [but] there is no comprehensive way to access this information, especially on the go or if you’re passed out in Collegetown.”

Once the student team finished the app, it presented ResCUer to the S.A. to seek help publicize it, Joe said.

To help promote the app, the S.A. is reaching out to student organizations and sending emails to the undergraduate body, according to Stephen Breedon ’14, vice president for public relations in the S.A.

“We want it available to every single student,” Breedon said.

The administration is also planning to “help market the app,” according to Joe.

Joe said that he and his friends were inspired to create ResCUer in the fall semester, when he felt that there was a general concern over safety on campus.

“We just wanted to help Cornell and make it a safer place,” Joe said.

Along with the effort to promote the app this semester, the ResCUer team is also working on updating the app and adding additional features to it.

“We are definitely working on some updates — there should be one out in a week. We are also working on getting it to Android,” said Josh Krongelb ’15, who programmed the app.

The updated version of the app may include a “ResCUroute” option — a feature that will calculate bus routes to take students home based on their location, according to Chopra.

Editors note: Emma Court ’15, a Sun news editor-in-training, is a member of the student team that developed the ResCUer app. She was not involved in the editing of this article.

Original Author: Erica Augenstein