The University of Tampa has made the decision to discontinue the utilization of blue light phones on the campus as an emergency communication measure. This decision was made after careful research of safety best practices, discussions with other universities around the country, and consultation with UT’s risk management team and campus constituents.
Blue light phones were utilized on campuses nationwide for many years. Similar to phone booths, analog phones were state of the art at the time of their installation and were familiar to students and visitors. They provided a means to communicate with Campus Safety when there were no other communication methods available in the area.
Since the large-scale adoption of cell phones, blue light phones became less familiar to current students and visitors. Many UT students are actually unaware that we have blue light phones despite having over 75 currently installed on campus. Over the last 10 years on the UT campus, we have not received one call from a blue light phone. In contrast, since the adoption of the Spartan SOS smartphone app in August 2021, Campus Safety has received over 60 safety-related communications. The aging technology as well as the lack of use has made it difficult to identify malfunctioning blue light phones and to find replacement parts. These difficulties have led many campuses to make the decision to move away from this antiquated technology and invest in technology more familiar to our students.
Deemed a “blue light phone in every pocket,” the Spartan SOS app, once downloaded, will seamlessly connect any UT community member with the Department of Campus Safety – without having to remember Campus Safety phone numbers. Users can even make an emergency call to Campus Safety – anywhere on campus – without unlocking their smartphone. We believe that students calling for assistance via their cell phone is a much safer approach than going to a stationary location and pressing a button.
Spartan SOS users can also anonymously send tips directly to the proper department regarding maintenance, safety and security concerns. The app also allows students to set a timer when they travel on campus that will inform a designated guardian or friend if they do not arrive at their destination safely. Additionally, subscribers can access important safety information and an area map through the application.
Spartan SOS is just one part of UT’s robust emergency communication strategy.
We encourage all University community members to download the Spartan SOS app using the QR codes below.