Most blue phone calls last year mischief or accidental, Campus Security report finds

Campus Security's annual safety report showed that the majority of blue phone calls were activated either by accident or as a prank.

The emergency blue phone system is intended to connect students with security in the case of emergencies, or when they need directions or assistance at all hours of the day.

The report showed that out of 110 blue phone calls received by a dispatcher in 2014, 101 were all determined to be either mischief or accidental. In these cases, a staff member was dispatched to the phone, but was not able to locate the person who placed the call. Out of the remaining nine calls, four were for wayfinding assistance, three were for safe transport and two were for medical assistance.

There are currently 19 blue phones on campus. UBC launched the phones nearly 20 years ago, with the intention of complementing existing safety services provided by UBC and the RCMP.

"The way how it works was push the button once and it will automatically connect to the security dispatcher and responded by patrol staff," said Barry Eccleton, director of Campus Security. "It’s a common thing to use in universities in North America, since it’s the most effective way to providing individual assistance in such large community.”

According to Eccleton, emergency blue phones are an essential part of Campus Security program as they help people who are under threat or feel unsafe get help.

“We added blue phone as additional security measure and to make sure that we will be there to help," said Eccleton.

Though Eccleton expressed his concern on the misuse of blue phones, he thought that it is normal to have such things happen at universities as large as UBC.

“You know, it’s a university. People do have fun, but I prefer that they didn’t [do the prank calls]," said Eccleton. "I know that it’s likely to be continued but we tried our best to encourage them to use the phone as it supposed to be used."

Campus Security is currently in the process of replacing the older blue phones with newer ones with cameras in order to make it easier to assess the situation at the time of the call. They will also be adding 18 new phones across campus.