React Sidekick Equips Students with Discreet Safety Alert Button


Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t walk around with your phone in your hand. These are things students can do to help avoid being victims of theft or assault, but now there’s new technology they can use if they do find themselves in compromising situations. It’s called React Sidekick, a discreet panic button and mobile app that can call for help when students may not be able to call for help themselves.

Seattle University, alma mater to React Mobile’s CEO and co-founder Robert Monkman, plans on testing the wearable Bluetooth safety device this summer. The React Sidekick allows students to send a widespread emergency text or e-mail with the touch a button, writes Molly Brown for Geekwire.

The university will use 100 students to test the product before expanding the program.

“The React Mobile solution offers an additional layer of security that complements our current campus safety efforts,” said Seattle University Public Safety and Transportation Executive Director Tim Marron. “We plan to phase out our current safety app in favor of React Mobile.”

Occidental College and the University of Washington also plan to offer the React Sidekick to their students, according to Michael Hart of Campus Technology.

The idea for the sidekick originated when Monkman had his off-campus apartment broken into near Seattle University. The robbers broke in, kidnapped his roommate and threatened to kill his roommate’s mother if Monkman called the police.  He found his roommate unharmed in a nearby alley, but ever since he has wanted to find a way to make college campuses safer, reports Jenny Ung for USA Today.

“Holding a phone can make you a target for attackers because you are displaying valuables,” Suzanne Scharlock, University of Washington (UW) student, says. “Using the React (Sidekick) Bluetooth device is a safer and more discreet way to be safe as you walk home.”

The actual device is only one and a half inches in size and can be pressed without an assailant knowing. It has a green light that turns red, indicating that help is on the way.

Another feature React Mobile offers via the app is a “follow me” mode in which contacts you have selected are able to see your location via GPS. The Sidekick’s light turns yellow when this feature is on.

This device comes at a time when colleges are working to increase safety measures due to recent rises in assaults on campuses. Last week a new federal regulation went into effect to help regulate the reporting of on campus crime, called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act. The new legislation will require information about campus crime to be published – the most significant update of the original Cleary Act in two decades.