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December 5, 2013

Viking Shield app launch

Students can us smartphones to call police and hospital for emergencies

By Travis Raymond

The Cleveland State University community has a new way to call 911 using smart phones: the Viking Shield app.

Reportedly the first of its kind, the app allows users to connect with emergency services on campus with the touch of a button.

Using a smartphone’s GPS signal, police, fire and emergency medical personnel can be summoned expediently to an exact location on campus.  The app requires that the user specifically allows the app to triangulate so as to send the location to Cleveland State police dispatch.

Captain Ronald Morenz of the Cleveland State Police Department explained that normal cellular calls to 911 made on campus go through the county’s emergency switchboard before routing to Cleveland State’s police dispatch.  Viking Shield removes that step from the process and connects directly to Cleveland State police dispatch.

“You push a button, and it’ll connect to dispatch,” Morenz said.  “It’ll give dispatch your GPS location and show exactly where you are on campus and gets us rolling that much faster.”

The app can also be used to report crimes and suspicious activity.  With Viking Shield, digital media recorded by a smart phone, images or video, can then be sent and reported to police.

“You see a crime in progress, you can take a picture of it, you can take a video of it, and you can send it to the dispatcher,” Morenz said.

The app’s designer, Chad Salahshour, studied engineering at Cleveland State in the 80s.  When his daughter attended the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law a few years ago, Salahshour decided to design a safety app to create a safer learning environment on campus.

At that point, Salahshour had already accrued a career’s worth of experience working with police departments and developing safety applications.  Using that experience, he created the Viking Shield system. 

“Development of Viking Shield has been the most rewarding experience I have had developing software,” Salahshour said.

It took Salahshour over 3 years to complete the state-of-the-art app.

Cleveland State sophomore Tamara Devoe said she had not yet heard about Viking Shield but intended to download it.

“I think it is pretty cool that they can harness new technology for safety,” Devoe said.  “It shows that the university can be innovative.”

Since its launch, the app has been used once so far to report a car fire Nov. 25.  The new app will soon be announced all over campus by an upcoming marketing campaign including signs promoting the new safety measure.  Police hope the signs will act as a deterrent and make criminals think twice before seeking victims on campus.

The app is free to download on iOS and Android.