DEKALB (WIFR) -- Two tragedies that rocked the Northern Illinois University campus inspire a group of alumni to find a better way for students to call for help.
Adam Havey and his college roommates have plenty of fond memories from their years together at Northern Illinois University, but like nearly every other husky, Valentine’s Day 2008 is one he would rather forget.
"I was in Reavis Hall going to communications class and as soon as I walked in, my teacher said there had been a shooting,” Adam Havey recalls the shooting on campus during his sophomore year. “We get outside and I hear glass break, I see trails of blood on the ground. I see two guys carrying this girl, she bleeding from side and her leg. She’s got buckshot from a shotgun."
A gunman opened fire inside Cole Hall and killed five students. Two years later, NIU freshman Antinette “Toni” Keller was brutally murdered in a park near the campus. Both tragedies got Havey and his friends thinking.
"Someone had mentioned it was a shame that there wasn't one of those emergency call boxes and that kind of sparked the idea. There are only so many places they can put them,” says Joe Parisi, the CEO of EduProtect. “Immediately it was like, let's solve this problem. In this day and age there’s no reason for something to not be In this day and age there’s no reason for something to not be mobile, everyone has a cell phone."
The trio created a device that can fit on our keychain and with two clicks, syncs to an app on our phone to alert police during an emergency.
"It has your photo and all your pertinent info and they give a call to the closest county dispatch office," says Havey, the Director of Sales for EduProtect. His other college roommate, Dominick Blando, is the COO at EduProtect.
The device comes at a time when the university is trying to strengthen its sexual assault policy, though NIU doesn't plan on bringing the key-chain to campus just yet.
Maureen Mostacci with Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling says the technology is another tool to help keep young women safe during an emergency, but warns, it shouldn’t be the only line of defense.
"Anytime that you can bring something in that's going to increase safety, that's really important,” says Maureen Mostacci. “The technology and the apps that are coming, think of each one as a tool. I think sometimes there's a thinking that with technology, this is the end all and we don't need the other stuff."
Havey and his friends understand their invention can't stop every criminal but they're hopeful this will move technology forward and improve safety on campuses across the country.
"I’m excited about this being the new standard for security on campus,” says Havey.
The group hopes to put the key chain onto 5 college campuses next spring.