Back to School Surveillance: "If you're not where you want to be at the expected time, campus police will show up."



It's back to school season and with increasing concern about sexual crimes on university campuses, there's a lot of buzz around a smartphone application that's being rolled at about 100 schools and allows police (and others) to monitor students' movement in real-time and access a lot of personal information.

It's called the Rave Guardian Campus Safety App, from Rave Mobile Safety. Enrollment is voluntary. The company explains its product:

Students can identify friends, roommates, and family as 'Guardians' along with Campus Safety. Students can set a Rave Guardian Timer. During a Timer session Guardians and Campus Safety can check status of student. If the Rave Guardian timer is not deactivated before it expires, campus safety is automatically provided with the user's Rave Guardian profile to proactively identify and check-in on the individual.

Whenever students, faculty, or staff connect with campus safety from their mobile phone, the Rave Guardian Campus Safety App automatically delivers a complete caller profile – including current location, medical conditions, course schedule, addresses, campus ID photo and other critical data.

Put more bluntly, "If you're not where you want to be at the expected time, campus police will show up," says Col. Emil Fioravanti, the campus director of public safety at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which is one of the schools that is adopting the technology.

Todd Piett, chief product officer of Rave, tells The Boston Globe, "There's a growing realization that safety is a community effort. It's no longer just about police keeping people safe; it's about having a network of people you can trust helping to keep you safe."

But, to be sure, cops do like it. Some testimonials from Rave's website:

"It's like blanketing our entire campus and the whole DC area with a virtual campus blue light phone. Brilliant!"—Michael McNair, Chief of Police,  American University

"Rave Guardian was actively embraced, campus police are big fans of it. What we really like about Rave Guardian is that it works on any cell phone and is a really easy system to use."—Brian Payst, Director of Information Technology, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Tools to help individuals nip crime in the bud are exciting; there's a lot of potential good to come from this app. At the same time, we do not know what potential negative, unintended consequences can emerge. There's good reason to be wary of surveillance tools that enable police, or anyone, access to one's movement and a slew of other sensitive data.

Police are quick to embrace new methods of monitoring, from surveillance drones to access to private security cameras to license plate readers. These have a lot of potential for abuse for crimes like stalking committed by officers, though. And American Civil Liberties Union has warned about the need for individual citizens to consider how much surveillance power cops ought to have so that we may still "enjoy the benefits of this new technology without bringing us closer to a 'surveillance society' in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the government." 

NEXT: Update: Officials Still Silent About Mandatory Psych Eval for Teacher

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  1. A schmuck app for schmucks. Like the song goes…

    I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)
    I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are) So-o-o-o-o what
    So what
    So what
    So what

  2. If the Rave Guardian timer is not deactivated before it expires, campus safety is automatically provided

    Sheesh, why not just cut to the chase and go with the “Escape From New York” mechanism?

  3. Oh, this will not end well. Oops, you forgot to turn off the alert? Here come the cops, guns drawn! Considering that adding the cops to any situation usually escalates it, anyone who uses this app is going to regret the shit out of it. The fact that the need for such a thing is so exaggerated by on-campus political bullshit also means that the number of false alarms will be high. And then the cops will come in expecting to find Oilcan Harry tying a girl to train tracks, when in fact she was just having so much fun with a guy that she forgot to turn off the alarm, and then the cops beat the shit out of the guy and arrest him even as she screams at them not to.

    1. Sounds like SugarFree’s next slashpr0n work.

      This is not gonna be good.

    2. …even as she screams at them not to.

      Possibly. Or, she’ll realize she fucked up and everyone will know where she was and what she was doing. So, she’ll play along with the cops and actually accuse the poor guy of rape.

      1. Most women aren’t that venal, dude.

        1. Epi, most of the rape accusations that have involved people I know were precisely in that pattern: a woman afraid of looking bad deciding to fuck up some dude’s life to cover her tracks.

        2. Oh, good, it will only be a FEW false rape accusations that will ruin a dude’s life. Not “most”

          Whew, that’s a relief.

      2. He raped me, and made me do all the work. Tell me it wouldn’t stand up in court.

    3. And then, when the cops turn around and try to charge her with/fine her for misuse of emergency services she decides that the most cost effective response is to claim that the dude *was* raping her.

    4. I’m really glad I went to a college where campus security wasn’t actual police.

    5. ” Here come the cops, guns drawn! ”

      For what, crimes committed by commoners against other commoners? There’s no crime against authority for them to concern themselves with here.

  4. Now campus police can feel even more like real cops and be even bigger dicks! Everyone wins!!!

  5. What the fuck?? You’re supposed to read dystopias in college, not live them.

  6. Over/Under on how many actual “crimes” or even “incidents” this foils?

    Ima go (boldly) with ZERO.


    Everyone else?

    1. I’m gonna go negative. I bet there’s an increase in crime.

      1. If not actual crime, then “incidents”.

      2. +1

        or do I mean -1?

  7. Our scientist developing the latest apps to turn you into a completely helpless sheep. Would you like to know more?

    1. I would like to attend your meeting, but first I need to file my travel plans with the state.

  8. A voluntary program, yet it still reminds me of this New Yorker cartoon.…..44744_.htm

  9. This will of course obviate the premise of Patrick McLaw’s sci-fi novel about a future school shooting (since no more will henceforth occur), retroactively causing him not to write it and thus invalidating his need for any psych review.

    1. *mind blown*

  10. As long as it’s voluntary, and you don’t force your fucked up beliefs on me, you can be as big a fucking pussy as you want. This might actually be a good way for pussies to be pussies without requiring I get treated like a fucking pussy too.

    Of course, if I’m the guy fucking the chick who forgot to turn it off when the pigs bust in gunz blazin…

    1. Right. Now you need a Rave Mobile Safety Detector App.

    2. As long as it’s voluntary…

      I give that about a semester. “If you aren’t doing anything wrong…”

  11. Millenials are going to love this. Rave Mobile Safety might be a good investment.

    1. Let’s ask some of ’em

  12. What a shocker my alma mater, UNC-CH, has this and loves it.

    Just another reason UNC will never voluntarily get money from me.

    1. I have to say that was a fun school to party at.

      1. I have fun party memories for sure.
        Some good memories of sports victories too.

        Are you an alum?

        1. No just went down and visited once.

  13. No more visiting your sick aunt excuses for a late term paper!

  14. If colleges are so unsafe we have to resort to dead-man switches for protection, I’d suggest our youngsters should look for safer educational opportunities, like a hands-on construction internship in Damascus or Mosul.

  15. Come on guys, this is all just the logical flow of a life that starts out with a Thudguard.

  16. Monsters under every bed.

    Monsters behind every tree.

    Monsters outside every door.





  17. As Epi pointed out, hat happens when the police come to her dorm room and find you buried face-first in her lap with the bong on the night stand?

    1. You mean that when you are oblivious committing a clear act of cannibalism and have a deadly weapon close at hand? I can’t even imagine.

      1. *Obviously

        1. I can’t thank you enough for your correction. I was trying to figure out how someone could be oblivious while their head is buried in someone’s crotch. Thank you. Thank you.

    2. Well, if it’s a school in Philly, the cop will push you out of the way and show you how it’s really done.

    3. So what your saying is the more likely outcome is setting up someone you don’t like just because you can?

  18. Police are quick to embrace new methods of monitoring other people…


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