GC emergency call boxes expensive, little used
Georgia College has 67 emergency call boxes on campus which cost $20,000 a year to maintain, but GC Police say they are rarely used for emergencies.
“Most calls received via the call boxes are accidental, pranks or in some cases the pizza delivery guy waiting to deliver a pizza at a residence hall,” said GC Police Sgt. Michael Baker, who oversees emergency management operations.
The call boxes require a monthly phone subscription and annual maintenance.
“Each box has a phone line and power to them,” said Mark Duclos, assistant vice president of Facility Operations. “The monthly cost for a phone line is $23.17, times 67 boxes times 12 months per year, equals $18,628 per year for phone lines.”
Duclos said annual power and maintenance expenses cost $1,770.
The call boxes, built by Ramtel Corporation, provide the general public and students without cellphones an additional resource to seek help.
However, according to Sgt. Baker, the calls received from the boxes have been few and far between, with just three calls in the past five years, all pertaining to medical emergencies. The most recent call took place in September of this year.
Baker said that while the call boxes look nice and provide a sense of security to students and their parents, they may not be needed anymore due to many people having cellphones and safety apps such as RAVE Guardian, available for download on iOS and Android.
At the time of reporting, GC assistant director of Emergency Preparedness Anna Lumpkin said that Public Safety has 1,227 registered users with RAVE.
“We do not have open access to user information at any given time,” Lumpkin said. “Only specific info is visible to us, and only when someone is actively using an applicable component of the app.”
Lumpkin went on to say that Public Safety cannot track users’ locations or view any of their information via RAVE unless the app is being used in an emergency, i.e. a safety timer going off or a panic call being placed.
“The system is monitored by on-duty GC Public Safety Dispatchers, so therefore the primary cost is the annual license renewal for the RAVE Guardian App, which is $4,500,” Lumpkin said.
The RAVE Guardian app is branded as a “two-way critical communications and personal safety app,” providing individuals a connection to their institution or organization’s security resources.