Blue Phones Enhance Campus Safety

It is hard to overlook the 17 blue pillars that are scattered throughout Northern's campus. The university has installed these Code Blue phones to offer more security to students, employees and visitors.

In case of an emergency, a person can push the red 911 button, which immediately dials into Public Safety dispatch. For those on campus after dark, the Code Blue keypads can be used to request a Public Safety escort to and from any campus location. They can also be used to contact a roommate, friend or co-worker to meet them or walk with them if they feel the need.

“Another feature is a keyboard with a black call button that can be used as a campus courtesy phone,” said Kim Erickson (Adit Techincal Services). “We like to see them being used.”

The Code Blue phones cost about $7,800 each, not including installation and maintenance. They are not a requirement on college campuses, but because safety is an important consideration for students and their parents, a number of schools have installed them. Don Peterman (Public Safety and Police Services) said their multifunctional capability and their potential to assist in an emergency make them invaluable.

"If the Code Blue phones help just one person, it is well worth the cost," he added. "You can't put a price tag on a person. The phones can also work as a deterrent to criminal activity because if someone is seen committing a crime, the witness can activate the emergency phone requesting the police, which in turn will have an immediate response. The phones have helped make Northern’s campus more secure, and they have made life easier for everybody,” Peterman said.

Typically, every time a new building, parking lot or other construction is planned, NMU’s Engineering department and Public Safety determine where a Code Blue phone is needed.

“This past summer, we added a phone in lot 62, in lot 28, and on the north side of Art and Design,” said Jim Thams (Engineering & Planning).

In addition, there has been one case in which students requested a Code Blue phone be installed in a parking lot that they were temporarily assigned to because of a construction project that impacted their usual parking lot.

“Students got together and requested the phone due to the distance they were walking from lot 12 to Spooner Hall," Peterman said. "The request was looked at by engineering and planning and the phone was provided and the students were happy.”

Even though the phones can be helpful in emergencies, Peterman warned that people should not be lulled into a false sense of security. He said Northern has a relatively safe campus environment, but it is still important to be aware of one's surroundings and to take steps to reduce potential risks.

“People should not have a misconception and think because there is a blue light phone, I’m safe no matter what," Peterman said. "If you can't get to the phone to activate it and no one else is around, chances are no one will be able to come and help you. It's always safer to walk with friends or colleagues."



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Updated: October 26, 2005

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