Pathlight presented

June 30, 2015

Personal security app makes an appearance at Board meeting

A smartphone application currently in a beta stage at North Dakota State University reached a new audience last week when it was presented before the State Board of Higher Education.

Michael Borr presents Pathlight, a personal assistance security application currently being tested at North Dakota State University.

Michael Borr presents Pathlight, a personal assistance security application currently being tested at North Dakota State University.

Michael Borr, director of the NDSU University Police and Safety Office, spoke about the new Pathlight app toward the beginning of last week’s regular Board meeting. Borr said the app offered the next step in personal security for NDSU students and faculty who could opt-in when traveling on campus, or off.

The app was introduced in the spring semester, and Borr noted that it would see a wider distribution this fall. Key campus considerations revolving around safety and security for students, staff and faculty prompted the university police department to evaluate ongoing programs, which is how they determined the Pathlight programming could be helpful.

According to Borr, the assist-type service was something they’d been adding to since the 1990s when the university had offered a personal assistance service. With that, someone could call the service and receive help in the form of a police escort from point A to point B.

“With the advent of new technologies that have come into play, we’re able to do a virtual assist and that’s what I’ll be describing today,” Borr said in reference to Pathlight. “A key in all of that in the Pathlight application is that it takes advantage of system architectures that are already in place. We basically started with a vision of increasing safety for our students and this was one key component.”

Borr then went into detail describing the application, which serves to track users from their starting point to a destination, all within an input timeframe. So if a student wanted to walk from the dorm to a night class within 10 minutes, he or she would enter that information. If the 10 minutes concluded without the student checking in at his or her destination, the university police would be dispatched along the programmed route to determine if the student needed any assistance.

Borr said if someone using the application needed immediate help the user could simply swipe his or herfinger across their phone screen to notify the university police department. He noted that NDSU had done extensive testing prior to the test implementation to ensure it had the features the department needed.

While no formal action was taken by the Board to implement the software elsewhere, the Board did thank Borr for his time and presentation.