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Campus 911 response gets a makeover

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Vigia aims to cut average college campus emergency response times from twelve minutes down to three with mobile phone tech.

If you're allergic to bees, a single sting can send you into fatal anaphylactic shock within minutes. And if emergency response is twelve minutes away, a 911 call might not be enough to save you.

That lagging response time, particularly on college campuses, is the catalyst behind entrepreneur Anthony Guglielmo's new software-based service, Vigia. Vigia aims to cut average emergency response times from twelve minutes down to three. The basic premise centers on routing mobile phone calls to a server on campus, rather than outward through a maze of cellular towers. Because campuses maintain separate dispatch systems from the local community-based police force, keeping 911 calls on campus speeds up the possible timeline for response. The Vigia software also uses GPS to pinpoint a caller's specific location.

Vigia has some other tricks up its sleeve too. The service can make health information on a student's phone immediately available to responders in an emergency. There's also an "I see what you see" function, where students can use their phone cameras to share visual details of a scene with police before they arrive. (Think license plate, or fleeing suspect) And finally, a Vigia app enables text chat with officers when talking isn't an option.

For responders, Vigia does one other thing too. It includes a feature to file paperwork right from an officer's phone -- a nice way to secure buy-in from the people who have to use the application.

Guglielmo introduced Vigia today as part of a GigTank demo event in the gigabit neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee. His company is pushing out to schools in the southeast near term, and hopes to then expand nationally. Privacy concerns are certainly an issue given the sensitive information Vigia processes, but Guglielmo assured potential investors today that the service is well-secured, and that it's designed to operate within campus IT departments' existing frameworks for student privacy. One of the event's judges in the audience noted that Vigia could also help lower college insurance bills. Saving lives and saving money? It's an appealing combination.

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Mari Silbey

Contributing Editor

Mari Silbey is an independent tech writer based in Washington, D.C. With a background in cable and telecom, she's a contributor to several trade publications, and part of the GigaOM analyst network. She also writes for the long-running digital media blog Zatz Not Funny, and has written for both corporate and association clients focused on broadband networks, mobile apps, and video delivery. She's a graduate of Duke University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure