Inventor trying to make places safer with community policing app

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A University of Missouri-Kansas City student is one step closer to realizing a dream. He's invented a new way to help campuses, neighborhoods, even entire cities take part in community policing and feel safer at the same time.

John Ruiz is the CEO and founder of "e-beacons." Simply put, it's a web and mobile application designed to increase safety in a variety of places, like campuses, shopping centers and neighborhoods.

He pitched the idea to the public safety committee at City Hall Wednesday, but his journey began several years ago when he was a freshman journalism major at the University of Missouri.

"I was very excited about being in journalism school and wanted to be a journalist. Then I had an identity crisis, thought I don't want to be a journalist anymore," Ruiz explained. "What am I going to do with my life? You know, typical freshman angst."

Then it hit him, he wanted to invent something, and an idea popped into his head.

"I had this concept for Tupperware that had peelable layers so you never had to clean it," said Ruiz.

The concept failed, but the creative process hooked Ruiz and a few years later, he's hoping "e-beacons" is the one.

He demonstrated how it would be used if you needed help in your neighborhood.

"In that situation, you would hit the red button on your app, your phone starts dialing 911 automatically," Ruiz said. "But at the same time, a push notification is sent to your neighbors with the app. So essentially, your neighbors can turn into first responders."

Ruiz says he can easily customize the app for any situation, including a college campus setting.

"I'm hoping to get some agreement with a local campus or UMKC by end of semester, since I'm a "Roo" myself, I'm hoping UMKC is the first one to jump on board with me," Ruiz said.

Ruiz is hoping he's close to a deal with the city. He can customize the app to deal with emergencies, reporting tips to the TIPS Hotline and send instant requests to the 311 help line.

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