Florida State University
Florida State University

Florida State University

Published in: Security Technology Executive Magazine, April 2011.

Florida State University

Executive Summary

Florida State University is a public university located in Tallahassee, Florida. Colleen Thomas, the Florida State University Assistant Director of Access and Security Services, took time to talk about the emergency phone towers across campus. The phones are placed in close proximity to each other to provide easy access to students.


Florida State University (FSU) has one of the richest histories in our nation when it comes to the tradition of providing quality education to the diversified population. With its impressive breadth of leading graduate, professional and undergraduate programs, Florida State University is a demanding, intellectually stimulating, yet warm and caring environment for students and faculty.

Safety of students and guests is paramount on FSU campuses to stimulate the inviting environment and continue to attract the top talent. One of the major public safety initiatives on FSU’s campuses was the Blue Light Trail, which now consists of over 400 strategically placed blue light towers equipped with emergency phones and blue lights.

The blue light emergency phone towers give passers-by a sense of security by providing a reliable two-way communications link with the FSU Police with a push of a button. The technology is not new but has proven to be invaluable on more than one occasion. The number of blue light emergency phones keeps growing as the safety needs of the campus grow.

FSU had a variety of blue light emergency phones installed on campuses from other manufacturers, but this time they turned to Talkaphone of Niles, Illinois to provide highly visible blue light towers and emergency phones.


Talkaphone has always reacted with complete support to every new requirement at FSU. When we wanted a phone that would work with the current vendor’s towers, they provided it and promised continued support for the phones no matter how old they are... Can’t find any better support in the industry than Talkaphone!

Larry Downing
 Network Specialist
Florida State University


“After receiving bids from multiple emergency blue light pole/phone vendors, Talkaphone was chosen as the most competitive,” reasoned Colleen Thomas, Office of Telecommunications at FSU. She then continued, “Reference checks with Talkaphone customers confirmed what we had heard about their excellent service and support.”

Having multiple vendors on-site allowed FSU to thoroughly test the blue light emergency phones before standardizing on one vendor. Talkaphone did not only satisfy the technical requirements and reliability tests of FSU but proved that aesthetics should not come at extra cost.

Blue light towers were painted in FSU’s theme color Chilean Red with gold lettering on all four sides to reinforce the identity of the campus. A wide variety of color and lettering choices are available when customizing Talkaphone’s blue light towers and it is part of the package. Talkaphone has also incorporated many additional features into the emergency phones to accommodate special requirements of FSU.

Larry Downing, a Network Specialist at FSU, worked closely with Talkaphone’s staff during the system design process. “Talkaphone has always reacted with complete support to every new requirement at FSU,” confirmed Larry. “When we wanted a phone that would work with the current vendor’s towers, they provided it and promised continued support for the phones no matter how old they are. When we needed a delay timer in the unit so we could do some special alert messaging interface with the Red Alert, they designed one.”

Another distinctive feature of Talkaphone’s emergency phones is the ability to fit into a majority of existing mounting accessories from other manufacturers, making an upgrade as easy as a simple swap of the phone alone. Larry Downing of FSU found the product support he needed: “Can’t find any better support in the industry than Talkaphone!”

Thunderstorm or Lightning, FSU is Ready

Thunderstorms and lightning are also a grave concern for FSU. Located in Tallahassee, Florida, FSU’s fifteen colleges are in the heart of a thunderstorm-riddled region, leading the nation in an average lightning density per square foot. Needless to say, having a reliable emergency communications link is significant from both legal and public relations perspective.

In the interest of safety for all facility, staff, students, and visitors, a comprehensive Emergency Phone Program was developed at FSU. As part of this program, a full-time employee was hired whose responsibility was to test and repair the blue light emergency phones in case of lightning outages.

At the time, FSU had two vendors providing emergency phones for its campuses. However, the design of emergency phones from Talkaphone proved to be superior in the lightning-prone region. “It is the belief of the Emergency Phone Technician that the Talkaphone units are more robust, particularly in the realm of surviving lightning strikes,” commented Colleen Thomas. She then explained, “While all phones [Talkaphone and another vendor] are fitted with the same external surge protection, his observations have been that Talkaphone units are more often spared or at least are repairable when a surge is sufficient to get through the protection device.”

Although efforts were made by FSU to protect the emergency phones with heavy-duty surge suppressors, severe lightning was still a major concern. Talkaphone’s ability to stand up to storm conditions played an important role in FSU’s selection of emergency phones moving forward. “With lightning being so prevalent in this area and having been a major factor in phone replacements in the past, we have experienced cost savings in this regard as well,” explained Colleen regarding FSU’s decision to standardize on Talkaphone equipment.

Tradition Of American Ingenuity And Manufacturing

Satisfying unique environmental demands in various corners of the World is something Talkaphone had been doing for over 75 years. Thunderstorms and lightning are not an exception. “When you have roughly 30,000 amps, 100-million volts making direct contact with electronics, chances it will survive are minimal,” explained Samuel Shanes, Chairman of Talkaphone. He then continued, “However, we have acquired a great deal of experience dealing with lightning and other environmental issues in our 75-year history of making products in the United States.”

Continuing the great tradition of American ingenuity and manufacturing, Talkaphone has recently launched its customer loyalty program. Existing customers can exchange their older Talkaphone Blue Lights to the new generation of LED Blue Lights and receive a factory rebate.

The new units are ultra-bright all-LED Blue Lights, featuring exceptional 209 lumens peak rating and prismatic pattern to enhance visibility at greater distances. All-LED construction of the unit significantly increases its life span, providing reliable service for years to come.

FSU’s decision to standardize on Talkaphone’s equipment has and will continue to save scarce monetary resources. However, it is nearly impossible to put a price tag on students and faculty’s safety. Confidence is at an all-time high at FSU that the blue light towers and emergency phones will operate effectively when they are most needed.

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Apr 11, 2016