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August 05, 2011
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‘Virtual escort’ app to aid campus police

University police are adding an emergency situation mobile application that streams audio and video

By PoliceOne Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A new iPhone app for college students is expected to help campus police respond to emergencies.

Starting in September, students at the University of Maryland will be able to download the application and use it as a “virtual escort” if they feel unsafe at night. As the camera rolls, any emergency situation that unfolds is recorded live for police dispatchers to watch in real time – useful for anyone who needs to alert authorities to a crime while staying discreet.

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In addition, dispatchers can communicate with the caller, and police can determine the exact location of the emergency using the application’s GPS technology, according to College Park Patch.

The department would like to expand the program to the entire city — university police do not have jurisdiction over all of College Park, and the county police do not have the technology to receive the video from campus police — but the price tag is off-putting to some City Council members.

However, the initiative would be worth the initial $100,000 cost, according to Police Chief David Mitchell, who says that university and county police have engaged in casual conversation about the program.

Until a deal is reached, information that comes in via the app can be recorded for other departments, but not viewed live.

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