Schools Prepare For Crisis Through Technology Solutions
Throughout America, schools have made great strides in creating a safety-first culture while federal, state and local governments have also offered expertise to help schools create a more secure environment. Planning and preparedness are vital for success; when it comes to technology investments, funds must be invested with clear safety and security objectives in mind.
Implementing the latest technology solutions, such as emergency alerts, classroom cameras and audio enhancement into schools nationwide gives students and staff the security they’re looking for, while saving lives and minimizing the devastation that can ensue in the wake of a crisis situation.
Prior to the 2015 school year, South Western Communications, an Indiana-based provider of integrated communications solutions for healthcare, educational and commercial clients, worked with Queen of Angels Catholic School in Roswell, Georgia to install two new technology solutions: a crisis lockdown alert status system and a communications console.
The crisis lockdown alert status system gives an overview of the school floor plan with a graphical map used to communicate with first responders and emergency personnel to improve reaction times. The system allows teachers to provide first responders with live updates concerning what’s happening in their classrooms, which then displays on the real-time graphical floor plan map.
In the result of an urgent situation, teachers can switch the status of the classroom between five uniquely identified color conditions from their computer screen, including green for safe/secure; yellow for student unaccounted for; blue for medical emergency; orange for disturbance and red for crisis situation. That information is immediately accessible to resource officers, school administration and anyone else who should be alerted.
If faced with an emergency, the system will initiate a lockdown, activate a pre-recorded message over the PA system and alert first responders, all simultaneously triggered with a single button push. The Queen of Angels Catholic School principal Molly Carlin said the school has a 99 percent check-in rate everyday with the system in order to practice and ensure it’s up and running.
The communications console can be programmed for multiple bell schedules, live announcements, emergency tones, and pre-recorded instructional messages to direct students and staff in case of an emergency. It also has the ability to integrate with all communications and access control systems. Having Principal Carlin’s voice initiate a lockdown has been very effective during drills at Queen of Angels Catholic School because a serene, familiar voice keep students’ calm and no longer triggers unwarranted chaos or panic.
With the push of a silent panic button, the communications console can ensure all doors, including pre-existing fireproof doors, lock automatically in the event of a school lockdown measure.
The school’s new security measures also include a door access control system, which requires school personnel to verify visitors before unlocking outside doors for entry. If the front office personnel are unable to unlock the door, the call would escalate to two further offices where the staff is able to utilize the access control cameras to visually see the visitor, as well as speak with them via the secured entry speaker prior to unlocking the door.
Ideal Technology Solutions For a Prepared School
These are only two of the technology solutions that can prepare schools for crisis. There are several others that would make for a fully scaled school safety solution.
Security cameras: Quickly identify when a visitor is at an entry way and anywhere else on campus by placing cameras in all entrances. Cameras can integrate with emergency systems to be visible from the alert status system graphical map to zoom into a specific location upon notification of an emergency.
Teacher microphones: Seventy-five percent of a typical school day is spent in listening activities; therefore, the success of classroom activities is based on how well students can hear. To keep everyone on the same schedule, wireless clocks throughout the school ensures bell scheduling and protocols are synchronized.
Cameras in the classroom: Improves teacher effectiveness and student learning. Ability to record classroom lessons, which can be used for teacher evaluations and at home student learning.
Panic-call buttons: An easy way to have contact with administrators in the event of an emergency or all clear, check-in situation. Teachers and administrators can also quickly notify the entire school and first responders of a crisis situation and trigger a lockdown via smartphones or tablets.
These solutions are available to empower all educators, especially those in the classroom every day, so they are prepared firsthand to deal with any type of safety situation.