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UMD Students to Stream Cell Phone Video to Police in Emergencies

by on Apr.24, 2009, under News

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is stepping up campus safety efforts by utilizing a new emergency-alert system developed by the university’s institute for advanced computer sciences.

The system is called ‘V911′ – one of the first of its kind for college campuses. By downloading a software program called ‘My View’ to a cell phone or a PDA, students can get up to date school directions and transportation schedules. But more importantly, users can access police attention like never before.

The university’s computer institute was working on the network for a year and a half. They got to work first on the 550 security cameras already on site, developing interfaces that all police to find a student’s exact location.

"Any security cameras that can see the scene, they will automatically turn themselves and focus on the incident scene," said Ashok Agrawala, UMD professor.

Now students can also take things into their own hands, ditching the emergency call box to use their cell phones instead. If a user is on campus and an emergency occurs, they can take out their cell phone, press the start button and within 15 seconds video will start streaming to a police dispatcher.

There is one exception. The iPhone isn’t designed to stream video to outside sources, but iPhone users can download an application that provides specific campus maps and locations, along with school bus schedules.

Many students say that type of help will go a long way. "Every little bit counts," said one UMD student.

Even though the university is at a ten year low for crime, police officers are already looking ahead and training themselves on the equipment.

"Universities traditionally are under the microscope because they’re suppose to be quiet, calm. This technology won’t stop crime, but it will help us get there sooner," said Major Jay Geruber, Prince George’s County police.

The live streaming video technology is so unique that outside companies are partnering with the school to use the technology. Researchers are still working on the user interface button and once that’s finished, the software will be free for all UMD students.

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