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January 31, 2014

Safety app slow to catch on

Despite no cost, most students don’t use it

By Aaron Cutteridge

Viking Shield ScreenshotCleveland State University released the Viking Shield smartphone application in November of 2013.

The app is designed to be a resource for the student body to utilize on campus to alert emergency services for a variety of reasons.

The US News & World Report lists undergraduate enrollment for Cleveland State University at 12,038 in 2013. The Cleveland State University Marketing Department reports that the app has been downloaded “more than 1,500 times,” which would equate to 12 percent of the undergraduate class.

Enrollment numbers including all other students are at 17,525, according to the US News & World Report.

Taking this into consideration, the percentage plummets to 8.56 percent. These percentages, however, are only accurate if the 1,500 downloads are CSU students, since it is a free application available to anyone. Employees and staff at Cleveland State could download it or someone in Spokane, Washington could download it. There is no guarantee that the 1,500 downloads reflect student usage.

Currently, this free application is only available on Android or iPhone smartphones. There is no support for Windows phones or BlackBerrys.

John Soeder, senior writer and university spokesman, said the app has been used 38 times since November 2013, and relies primarily on a smart phone’s signal strength.

When someone activates the alert system on the phone, the campus immediately dispatches first-responder units to their location using the smart phone’s GPS technology, Soeder added.

The layout of the app is very user-friendly and simple to navigate. There is also an option to report suspicious activity by photos and text anonymously.

Cleveland State has advertising on the campus and the website, yet at most only eight percent of the student body has taken advantage of this tool. In the coming weeks the Cleveland Stater will talk with some students to try and understand these low enrollment numbers.