Husson University Uses Technology to Prevent Assault

BANGOR, Maine — Alongside Peace of Mind (POM) Company, Husson University in Bangor has been testing a keychain-sized POM personal safety device since October 2015. The devices allow students feeling threatened to simply push a button on the device, alerting campus security to their specific GPS coordinates.

On May 17, the university announced that the technology would now be available to all members of the university community who are interested in subscribing to the annual service. The device is free and an annual subscription of $45 covers the communication service. “For those students who demonstrate financial need, Husson University will cover the cost to ensure their safety,” said Eric B. Gordon, executive director for marketing and communications.

Husson students, staff, faculty and administration are all able to use the service. Individuals visiting the campus for extended periods of time can talk to campus security about borrowing a unit should they have any concerns about their personal security, according to Gordon.

The compact device has a built-in ring to connect it to a keychain for quicker access and can work with gloves unlike some smartphone applications. If the user is not on campus, the software automatically redirects the signal to local law enforcement.

The POM device offers students and other users both silent and signal alert options. In both cases a GPS location, personal informational and photo of the user is sent to Husson Safety and Security. When the silent alert is deployed, the activated POM emits no sound, but a staff member from campus security can listen in on what is happening. During the signal option, the device buzzes and beeps. It also allows for two-way communication with campus security. The device needs to be charged only every 10 to 14 days and its software is cloud-based so installation and upgrades require no maintenance by campus security.

“One sexual assault on campus is one too many. We’re hoping that this device can help make our already safe campus, even safer,” said Raymond Bessette, executive director of security and safety for the university.

Dispatchers at the campus have been trained on the POM software and can access it via their iPhones and Androids to more quickly locate those in need of assistance. In addition to sexual assault, users can activate the device when they feel unsafe in any classroom or office, need a virtual or in-person escort, have a health emergency, are lost, see something or someone suspicious and/or see someone that needs help. The POM device is considered an added safety measure for Husson University, and is not intended to replace any existing safety protocols.