University Of Akron Campus Safety - There's An App For That

Map of University of Akron as displayed on its “Cleanup/Fixup” app which allows students to report neighborhood problems with GPS information.
The University of Akron “Cleanup/Fixup” app allows students to report neighborhood problems with GIS. [University of Akron]
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The University of Akron is engaged in a multi-pronged effort to enhance the safety of its campus, particularly the East Exchange Street corridor where much of its student rental housing is located.

In September, a 19-year-old non-student was charged with breaking into cars in the area. In November, a student invited two teenaged friends into his dorm on Exchange Street. One brought a pistol and accidentally shot himself in the abdomen.

The area is transitioning. There are fewer families and more retail and student rentals. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan says the residential changes prompted the focus on safety.

“Right now future University of Akron students and their parents are making critical college attendance decisions,” said Horrigan. “And as mayor, I want those families to know that a first class education is right here at the university in a safe and welcoming environment.”

The university campus (left) has many new commercial and residential neighbors (right) on East Exchange Street. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]

Summit County’s Geographic Information Systems department has built a phone app called Cleanup/Fixup that students can use to pinpoint problems in the neighborhood such as housing, trash or a broken streetlight using GIS location services. Any report on the app goes to the city’s 311 system that routes the complaint to the appropriate department.  

The city has already been focusing on the area and identified 119 properties that needed inspection, repair, or demolition. Horrigan says the Housing Division issued 57 violations and all of the property violations have been corrected.

University of Akron Interim President John Green says the school, the city, and FirstEnergy have replaced 60 streetlamps and expect to add more “so the area is uniformly lit well.”

Green says he was surprised to find that many of the area residential streets have only one streetlight.

“In the neighborhoods I live in everybody wants to reduce the level of light because we’re concerned about light pollution,” Green said. “But you walk and drive some of those streets back here [south of Exchange street] and it’s really dark.”

Mayor Horrigan and John Green

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and University of Akron President John Green. [Mark Urycki / ideastream] 

Green says one effort the university has undertaken is razing old, vacant buildings to open up more green space. These are no longer standing:

  • Trecaso Building (at the corner of S. College and Forge)
  • Wheeler Street Residence (309/311 Wheeler Street)
  • Grant Street Residence and Townhomes (various locations/south side of block between East Exchange, Grant, Wheeler and Sherman streets)
  • Plasma Alliance Center (at the corner of East Exchange and Brown streets)
  • Vine Street Apartments (at the corner of Goodkirk Avenue and Vine Street)  

Next on the chopping block is former dormitory Gallucci Hall.

Police patrols are also being adjusted. University police will be seeing more evening and nighttime shifts. The Ohio State Highway Patrol will move its Summit County post to a UA-owned building near campus. The Patrol does not work on campus but officials believe the visibility helps deter crime.

Finally, the unarmed Block-by-Block safety patrol has moved its office to Exchange Street. That campus group patrols by foot and bike from 7:30 pm to 4:30 am.

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