The University of Houston-Clearlake is known for its focus on high-quality education and research, and for providing a safe, welcoming environment for students, staff, and campus visitors. After a demonstration of SafeZone, UHCL’s executive leadership team immediately saw its value not just for enhancing safety, but for providing additional support for students’ mental and emotional well-being.
With its main campus located in a 524-acre nature reserve in southeastern Houston, plus the Texas Medical Center and a satellite campus in Pearland, UHCL provides a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as certified business courses tailored to the demands of the jobs market.
Community engagement and a vibrant campus culture are particular strengths, and UHCL fosters partnerships with local businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.
For students choosing to study at UHCL – and for their parents – safety and wellbeing are a key consideration. With this as a priority, the executive board identified SafeZone as the technology best suited to supporting both the campus police and UHCL’s counseling department in improving their services further.
Following a demonstration of CriticalArc’s SafeZone technology, and its Omniguard command and control platform, UHCL’s Executive Director of Public Safety, Russell Miller, was convinced that the community would benefit from the enhanced protection it enables.
Supported by CriticalArc’s customer success team, he developed a business case for rapid adoption, showing clear benefits and cost advantages. With its track record of improving Safety EverywhereTM – including for students and staff using the campus, and those working remotely or traveling – it was clear that SafeZone would support UHCL’s police department, and allow officers to provide a consistently faster response to incident as well as provide a quick and easy way for students to access support services.
Omniguard’s suite of geo-location and communications tools enables control room dispatchers to direct the nearest officers to attend any incident, more efficiently. Pinpoint positioning shows exactly where all on duty officers are – plus the locations of other responders including qualified first aiders, and any community volunteers – in relation to individuals calling for help. This enhanced visibility acts a force multiplier for busy policing and security teams, and cuts down response times, making a potentially life-saving difference.
Chief Miller was supported in his vision by UHCL President Richard Walker, and by key stakeholders including the Executive Director of Counselling Services, Cynthia Cook. For UHCL’s counseling services in particular, SafeZone was recognized as having significant potential; it could make it easier for students and staff to access support 24/7, whether they needed general reassurance or had a more urgent need for mental-wellbeing support. Following a comparison of available technologies, SafeZone was adopted. Its advantages were promoted at student orientation sessions, to ensure high levels of engagement.
SafeZone is now used widely by students and staff in the UHCL community. Crucially, SafeZone includes a range of appealing tools beyond its emergency call function, and this encourages regular use. For example, students and members of staff can ask to be virtually escorted to their vehicles, or to another building, if they are worried when working alone, or out-of-hours. And a ‘tip reporting’ tool allows users to anonymously report issues, from maintenance and safety problems to concerns about the wellbeing of friends. It encourages users to support each other and take an active interest in the community around them.
These courtesy services at UHCL have encouraged closer and more positive interactions between officers and the students they watch over, and encouraged mutual support and community-mindedness generally.
At leading universities globally SafeZone is now delivering major benefits:
- At UHCL SafeZone is transforming student wellbeing and mental health services, making it easier for individuals at-risk, or in crisis, to reach out and access help at the moment they need it. Institutions protecting their people with SafeZone consistently renew their contracts and use the metrics provided by SafeZone to drive continual service improvement.
- SafeZone’s unified platform combines multiple functions to replace inefficient and costly siloed products
- OmniGuard optimizes team coordination, ensuring faster responses and better outcomes in emergencies
- Because SafeZone is a multi-function solution that includes features encouraging regular use, it is not affected by
the problem of declining user-confidence and falling engagement that commonly undermined traditional lone- worker and emergency call products.