Personal security app Guardly, which launched back in April 2011 on the iPhone and iPod touch, announced Thursday morning that it now offers a special program for students at 67 universities and colleges across Canada, designed as an extension of on-campus security measures.
I’m glad Guardly CEO and founder Josh Sookman took my idea; when I wrote about the service in April, I closed with the following paragraph:
I’m reminded of the emergency call buttons posted at lampposts around campus at colleges and universities when I think of Guardly, only the app model works better because it’s available everywhere and seldom leaves your person.
Obviously, Sookman and company also noticed the similarities. The new service, called Safe Campus, will turn students’ smartphones — including iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 handsets — into emergency call buttons that are always with them and provide a direct line to campus security when on school grounds. You can even exchange text messages with campus security should you find yourself in a situation where discretion is required. When off-campus, which Guardly determines using your phone’s location data, the app switches instead to Guardly’s original model, which delivers notifications to up to 15 specified contacts and can also connect directly to local 911 services.
The service will be provided totally free for students, faculty and school staff, but users must have a valid university-issued email in order to use the app. You can check if your school is among the 67 supported by following this link. Guardly is also looking to expand the program, so if your institution isn’t listed, you can suggest it for later addition.
One challenge for Guardly will be making sure students and faculty are aware of the app. That’s why they came up with the Campus Hero campaign, which encourages students to spread the word about the free Guardly services via Facebook, or directly with each other. Increased awareness about the app could also serve as a preventative measure, Guardly hopes, since knowledge that a tool like this could be in the pocket of any potential victim might help deter would-be attackers.
Guardly original received seed funding from Toronto’s Extreme Venture Partners and Bryker Capital, as well as several Angel investors. Then, in Sept. 2011, it received $237,500 in interest-free stimulus funding from the federal government, which the company invested in developing an API to turn Guardly into a platform.