Integrate a Panic Button
Video surveillance software provides a direct link to classrooms
- By James Whitcomb
- Dec 01, 2013
Violent acts in schools, committed by individuals,
are unfortunately becoming more
common. While video surveillance is the
essential element in an overall school security
plan, an emerging tool in combating
this crisis scenario head-on offers the ability
to send real-time, emergency alerts at the
push of a button.
“We need to assure parents and students that they’re safe at
our schools, and we need to use whatever, including the technology
that exists, to keep the students safe,” said Dr. Bob Fortenberry,
former superintendent of Jackson Mississippi Public Schools.
Video Insight has joined together with Audio Enhancement to
develop a technology in video surveillance and audio alert notification
through the integration of Video Insight VMS with Audio
Enhancement’s Security Alert For Education (SAFE) System to
provide a maximized solution for school crisis response.
“Because Audio Enhancement is an education industry pioneer,
and Video Insight is a video surveillance leader tailored to
the education market, it just made sense that we could work together
to provide the best solution for those emergency situations
that need real-time response,” said Brad Ehlert, vice president of
product development at Audio Enhancement.
Already used in schools across the country, the SAFE System
is a wearable device, or panic button, that a teacher or administrator
has on at all times. The SAFE system, consisting of a receiver/
amplifier, teardrop microphone, monitoring station, and network
interface or security camera, is customized to process alert notifications
according to specific, school district policy. In the event
of an emergency—such as an active shooter heard in the hallway
or a violent classroom incident—the teacher can discreetly request
assistance by pressing a button. First responders are notified with
an audible and visual alert signal on the SAFE System monitoring
station, and can then listen to a live audio feed from the classroom.
This real-time information can be delivered to computers, laptops,
smartphones or tablets so critical decisions can be made instantly.
Video Insight VMS—used on more than 5,000 school and college
campuses nationwide—is a feature-rich, video surveillance
solution that allows the monitoring of live and recorded video
from a monitoring station, web client or mobile app. Designed to
meet the specific needs of the education market, it is easy-to-use,
scalable, supports 2,000 video camera models and integrates with
One of the most severe limitations during an active crisis situation
in a school building is the inability to know exactly what is
happening. The integration of the SAFE System provides both
eyes and ears, which can be an immeasurable asset to first responders
and administrations reacting to an emergency alert.
The SAFE System integrates neatly with Video Insight. Rules
can be created to send a pop-up window with the exact classroom
location on an integrated facility map; record live video of the
situation; and review recorded clips of video immediately preceding
“Simply pressing the button would activate the camera so that
perhaps my life, perhaps my students’ lives, might be enhanced,
improved, [and] saved by virtue of the fact that the office can see
what’s happening,” said Dr. Carolyn Warner, former Arizona superintendent
of public instruction.
There are a number of crisis situations that arise on school
campuses that this integration is well-suited to combat including
shootings, stabbings, fights, explosive devices, medical emergencies
for students or teachers and disgruntled employees or parents. One
of the more common situations teachers and administrators face is
an unauthorized parent trying to pick up a child or visit a student
in the classroom. The teacher knows the parent should not be there
but is afraid to use the phone or press an intercom button in fear it
could incite some type of response. However, by discreetly pressing
the button on the integrated microphone, the teacher can request
assistance without drawing attention.
Some panic button systems are just that—panic buttons. With
this approach, the device tends to end up in the desk drawer, but
with the microphone approach, the teacher wants to wear it for
the benefit of the classroom audio.
Administrators welcome the power of VMS and emergency
alert button integration as it can be the only lifeline for their
teachers and students during a chaotic situation.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Security Today.