Tapshield- Complicating 911?

Katie Tison

UNF President John Delaney chose not to bring Tapshield to campus.
UNF President John Delaney chose not to bring Tapshield to campus.
An eerie blue light is cast from bright blue poles dotted throughout campus. EMERGENCY– the word is stamped across the side of the pole.

It’s your first night on campus. You watch the shadows in the trees fearfully, seeing attackers everywhere.

Up ahead is a blue emergency light. On your phone, there’s an app for that.

A new smartphone app called Tapshield strives to increase safety, but could end up complicating things.

President John Delaney learned of Tapshield from a friend who is a lobbyist. Delaney said his friend represents the company and asked him to meet and learn about the app.

Using Tapshield would be like having one of those emergency blue lights on your phone. There are three options.

The first is the emergency button. Once hit, your phone transmits a distress signal to UPD with GPS coordinates.

The second option is a chat button. If a student were to see something happening that they thought was illegal they could text UPD to let them know.

The third option is the timer. If you are going on a 20-minute run, you set the alarm for 25 minutes. If you don’t shut the alarm off by that time, a distress signal is sent to UPD.

Delaney researched Tapshield and said the app is a good concept but not quite ready for UNF.

Tapshield is a security app that helps users notify police in case of an emergency. Photo courtesy of Facebook
Tapshield is a security app that helps users notify police in case of an emergency.
Photo courtesy of Facebook

“The security people concluded that most people on campus would rather just hit the [blue light]. That would be quicker than to go to the app, then go into the app, then have to hit something else,” Delaney said.

Delaney said UNF has the lowest crime rate out of any Florida university. He said UNF will continue to use the blue lights.

Delaney said, “It’s great to be able to just go and hit it and get a signal to go out.”

Sheila Spivey, Women’s Center director, said the blue lights provide an additional level of safety.

“Now that we’re in an age where people are constantly using their cell phones and iPads, it’s definitely something for someone who is tech-savvy. But 911, the old traditional system, still works,” Spivey said.

Taylor Smith, a UNF exercise science junior, said she’s not sure if the blue lights work but they are comforting. Smith said the app would not be helpful because she does not have access to app technology.
Tayzhana Blackmon, UNF undecided freshman, said she would probably just call 911.

Rachel Jenkins, a UNF communications junior, said, “If I couldn’t talk, it would be good to just push a button so I would still know help had been notified.” Jenkins said she feels safe because of the blue lights.

Brad Germain, a UNF computer science senior, said the blue lights are useful. He said he is not sure if people would use the Tapshield app.

“I don’t think I would use it personally. I’d just call 911,” he said.