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As you well know, San Francisco is an awesome city, but individual safety can be a problem. That’s why USF has a Public Safety Department, which exists to keep you safe. Their use of technology includes Pathlight, Blue Light phones, and a series of complex digital and analog radio systems.

Pathlight, still in its beta phase, but available in the Fall, is an enhancement measure for safety, which doesn’t take the place of other security measures. It is basically an app for your phone, which uses your GPS coordinates to place a dot referring to where you are, on their computers. You select where you are and where you are going, and the approximate time that you will arrive and then start walking, and Public Safety monitors your dot, to make sure that you’ve arrived to your destination in your time allotment. When you arrive, you press the “Arrived” button, and Public Safety sits back in their seats, happy that you’ve arrived safely. If your dot starts moving in the opposite direction at a fast rate, they’re going to call you to see what’s going on, or they’re going to send officers to investigate. Again, this is still in beta mode, so lookout for it.

Blue Light Phone

Blue Light emergency phone

Blue Light phones are also available on campus to call the attention of Public Safety to any urgent situations. Once someone pushes the button, an officer is immediately dispatched to that location, and the light continues to flash. You do not even have to pick up a phone to make Blue Light work; the line immediately connects to Public Safety’s emergency line, where a dispatcher will assist you.

The complex radio systems are another part of Public Safety’s cunning ploy to protect you. When you call them to report a crime or any suspicious behavior, the dispatcher is simultaneously listening to you, and giving the information you provided to the patrol officers, who have immediately been sent out. You just can’t hear the second part of the conversation because of the features of the radio. So if you’re wondering why they keep asking you detailed questions, rather than putting you on hold to call a patrol officer, they actually have already sent one out. They’re just trying to keep you calm and gather more information.

And of course, there’s the night safety shuttle (which is the disability shuttle during the day) at the following times: Sunday through Wednesday, 6pm to 1am. (Last call for shuttle pick up or drop off is at 12:30 am.) And Thursday through Saturday, 6pm to 3am. (Last call for shuttle pick or drop off is at 2:30 am.) The shuttle can take you to any on-campus or off-campus residence, as long as it’s within the North Boundary: California Street, East Boundary: Divisadero Street, South Boundary: Fell Street, and West Boundary: 6th Avenue.

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