DPS upgrades its call systems

By on September 22, 2008

By Chelsea Mcbeath And Brian Ray

When walking on campus late at night, Anna Villereal said she finds safety in numbers.
“There are several nights of the week when I have to walk back to my dorm really late,” said Villereal, a freshman fine arts major. “I found the best way to deal with this is to walk back with people going to or where I am, this way I feel a little more protected.”
This year the Department of Public Safety has changed its emergency number to 911. For students like Villereal, who fear an attack while walking on campus, this change may be of little use – it only works for landline phones on campus.
Some students are alarmed by this new system, fearing that it won’t help them in an emergency situation.
“When it is late at night and I’m walking to my car, what good is this going to do?” undeclared freshman Ashley Catapano said. “I don’t have a landline phone available to me, just my cell. That doesn’t seem well thought out for those of us who aren’t having an emergency in a dorm.”
But according to DPS telecommunications supervisor George West, students should feel especially safe when calling from a landline in an emergency situation.
“Before when someone would call from a landline and got disconnected, we had no caller ID,” West said. “Now campus phones transfer full locations to us. We know what street you are on, what building you are in and the room number.”
According to West, the old emergency system was a technological hurdle DPS has always had to navigate. Instead of 911, West said the old system, which was in place for over 10 years, had a seven digit emergency number many people had trouble remembering.
West acknowledged that there have been a few growing pains with the new system, mentioning problems with AT&T in setting it up. He said over the summer, some of these problems could be seen in some emergency alert text messages. On several occasions, alerts were sent to students stating the campus phone lines were out. However, West assures this is an established system and is used by such local cities as Anchorage and Shively.
According to Safety Issues Officer Joe Dittman, the new technology works through a partnership with Metro Safe, the Metro Louisville department responsible for directing emergency calls in the Louisville area.
“When someone calls 911 from a landline phone on campus, the call will be
flagged as a campus line and then immediately transferred to DPS,” Dittman said.
But for Lori DeBiase, there is a fear that all these changes will spell trouble in an emergency situation.
“I just wish that if I was having an emergency on campus and I called 911 with my cell phone the call would go directly to DPS,” said DeBiase, a freshman business major. “I feel that by the time the proper authorities are notified it may be too late.”

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