Department: Information Technology

New Emergency Phones Enhance Safety Features on Campus

November 13, 2015

Students, staff, and visitors at Emporia State University will be able to connect with university police at the push of a button, through 10 new emergency phone stations being installed across campus.

The “Blue Light” phones replace an outdated system of phones that have been in place for years, according to Cory Falldine, associate vice president and chief information officer for information technology department.

Each of the phones will be uniform, using the color red associated with emergencies, plus a bright blue LED light and reflective “Emergency” lettering to make them easier to locate.

“Of the current 11 stations, no two look exactly alike,” Falldine said. “Oftentimes, you wouldn’t know you were looking at a station until you were within a few feet of it. These new stations will all be the same — easy to see, easy to find and easy to use.”

The phones will have more reliable power and connectivity, with a button to press to send calls directly to the Police and Safety Department. 

“Many of the older styles had a box to open to make the call, which could cost extra time in the event of an emergency,” Falldine said.

Falldine said the replacement project was a collaborative effort of Information Technology, Facilities, University Planning and Emergency Management departments, with assistance from Associated Student Government. Each group brought a different viewpoint to the project.

The IT department handled the technology aspect, Emergency Management had been concerned the existing phones were difficult to find, and Planning Department saw the changes as a way to improve the overall look and feel of the campus, according to the Campus Master Plan, he said.

The Facilities department has poured new concrete pads so the phones could be installed and connected.

ASG was pivotal to success, Falldine said. The students rated original phone locations and helped select the “look” that would be easiest to find.

“Because of their support, we were able to determine where the current 10 device replacements should remain, but also determine where the new stations should be installed when we get to that phrase of the project next calendar year,” he said.

Planners had expected to install two stations per year for five years, and add more stations later, as budgets allowed. 

The project moved to the fast track with support from former President Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, who allocated most of the cost from the President’s Common Good Fund to allow all 10 installations to occur all in the same year.

“Many donors to this fund – which provides unrestricted support for Presidential Priorities — are members of the President’s Club who give $1,863 or more annually,” explained Jennifer Denton, ESU Foundation vice president for stewardship and administration. “But anyone can direct their giving to the President’s Common Good Fund.”

The funding was key to completing an important project, Falldine said.

“So now we can focus on the expansion of additional stations, five years ahead of schedule.”