Call for help

University of Maryland researchers have created a new emergency alert system for mobile phones that they say could help improve safety on campuses.

University of Maryland researchers have created a new emergency alert tool for mobile phones and PDAs called V911, which they say could help improve safety on campuses across the US.

With the touch of a button, a user in distress can alert campus police of their identity and location, and stream live, GPS-enhanced video and audio of any incident from their phone.

Created by Prof Ashok Agrawala and his team of researchers from the UM Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), the V911 technology is one tool in MyeVyu, a downloadable software package for mobile phones and PDAs that provides a host of new networking and information access capabilities, including a direct link between the user and campus police dispatch.

In addition to immediate contact with police, MyeVyu permits police dispatchers to forward the device’s audio and video to any squad car, including additional streams available from nearby security cameras, and automatically records all data streams involved. All of this information is integrated so that the police can better prepare for the emergency situation as they are on their way to the scene.

In addition to the V911 technology, the MyeVyu program can provide up-to-date campus alert information, one more way to disseminate emergency information to the university community.

Already available for iPhone, HTC Pro and Nokia’s N810, the product may soon be available for similar hand-held devices.

Already, MyeVyu and V911 are part of a pilot programme on the campus called the Mobility Initiative, which is designed to see how hand-held devices such as the iPhone – loaded with technologies such as MyeVyu – may be able to improve the education and college experience of students.

For additional information about MyeVyu, Dr Ashok Agrawala can be emailed at