Guest Editorial by David Rogers, CMO of Raptor Technologies
School safety protocols have changed vastly over the last few decades, yet we’ve continued to see tragedies occur on school campuses. As of October 2022 alone, there were more than 100 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, the most vivid in memory being the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Over the years, schools have implemented a myriad of safety protocols, from the most basic policies requiring locking exterior doors and implementing visitor management software to more advanced strategies incorporating panic alert technology, integrating security systems, and even software that leverages artificial intelligence coupled with security cameras to detect a fight or a gun immediately.
(Hear from Mike Lahiff, CEO of ZeroEyes, a Double Platinum Award Winner in the 2022 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, for their A.I.-based gun detection video analytics platform that holds the US Department of Homeland Security SAFETY Act Designation. Courtesy of Fox News, ZeroEyes and YouTube.)
Any extra step that can be taken provides another layer of safeguarding everyone on school grounds, and it’s become clear that utilizing antiquated safety solutions isn’t enough to stop tragic events from happening.
School leaders can help prevent violence and ensure campuses are well prepared in the event of a safety emergency by equipping them with a holistic and multi-layered solution that handles every crucial step of a safety and emergency management process: one that includes prevention, preparation, response, and recovery.
Prevention and early intervention are the first steps in creating a safe environment for students and staff. Recognizing and documenting low-level concerns allows administrators to reduce that child’s exposure to harm and provide the necessary support they might need to cope and heal.
Leveraging a software platform that provides a secure environment for recording concerns, behavioral threat assessment workflow, and case management gives schools a holistic view of a student’s well-being and the opportunity to help guide them toward a safer path.
(Raptor StudentSafe™ enables school staff to recognize, document, support, and manage the mental health and well-being of individual students. This is important because early intervention is the most effective way to reduce a student’s exposure to harm and give them the support they need to cope and heal. To help improve school safety, StudentSafe™ offers a highly intuitive platform where you can obtain a holistic view of individual students’ well-being. When school staff has a full picture, they can collaborate with the student and caregivers to make decisions in the student’s best interest. Courtesy of Raptor Technologies and YouTube.)
The right integrated school safety software with safeguarding capabilities can identify, document, support, and manage every facet of a student’s well-being within one system while ensuring each student has privacy through highly configurable permissions, access, and data retention policies.
Any hesitancies or quick mental notes staff might have concerning a student can easily be documented within a single secure platform. Even low-level concerns like irregular attendance, outbursts, unexplained bruising, withdrawal, change in vocabulary, or simply having a disheveled appearance, among other things, can be noted.
While some of these behaviors might not seem concerning in a single instance, when other people observe similar things or encounters with a student, it allows trained teams to pattern a potentially troubled student’s behavior – before violence becomes an issue. This type of safety solution, which helps manage a large volume of students who might need support, is a comprehensive, proven approach to the safety of every single individual.
All states have drill cadence and reporting requirements for school districts, and the old adage that “practice makes perfect” has never been truer.
Schools must be able to accurately account for their drills and simultaneously build muscle memory so everyone can respond effectively during an emergency.
Running active assailant drills, doing annual tabletop exercises, and practicing reunification are critical ways schools can prepare for the unexpected. Using software to track and report on the success of these drills can help districts track performance and more readily meet mandates for state-level reporting.
While prevention is integral to keeping schools safe, response time is critical when an emergency happens on a school campus. We’ve seen recently how every moment matters.
No one can afford even one second of delayed or inaccurate correspondence with dispatchers and responders. Schools relying on disjointed safety solutions may waste valuable time.
By connecting digital safety devices and systems on campus– alarms, public address systems, cameras, smart boards, loT devices, and other peripherals – emergency response times can be expedited, minimizing the impact of the emergency.
Here are five key capabilities that your school safety technology should have to ensure the most successful emergency response:
The use of a mobile panic button expedites incident awareness.
School staff and first responders depend on quick, accurate, and specific information to respond successfully. Leveraging a powerful panic button system that can be added to mobile and desktop devices enables school staff to expedite and streamline emergency response.
They can do this by allowing users to initiate an emergency through 911 and provide critical information to first responders, law enforcement, and campus personnel. With an advanced mobile panic button, districts can customize alerts for campus-wide emergencies and everyday, localized incidents.
A district can create its own distribution lists for each alert type configured. For example, for a lockdown, a district would typically choose to notify all users on campus, plus selected district personnel. By contrast, a more selective distribution list that includes the school nurse would be appropriate for an injured student on the playground.
The app should send situation-specific notifications via push notifications, text, phone, email, and desktop notifications. Push notifications must show and play audio even if the phone is in silent/do not disturb mode to help inform staff an incident is taking place. This ensures each incident is handled efficiently and appropriately.
(At the center of the Raptor Emergency Management Suite is Raptor Alert. Designed to work under duress, Raptor Alert is a silent panic alert system that works on the devices your schools use every day. Courtesy of Raptor Technologies and YouTube.)
Share details with first responders automatically.
The amount and timeliness of the information that can be provided to first responders during a school emergency are critical to the outcome. The right panic alert system can deliver vital, real-time data, connect a caller to 911 and instantly share details about the caller and the situation, such as a dispatchable address, the type of emergency, and the real-time status of that emergency.
Additionally, first responders can navigate hallways quickly and correctly with high-resolution, detailed school maps provided through advanced emergency management systems.
Account for everyone on campus.
With powerful integrated emergency management software, staff and first responders can access real-time details about every person on campus, including their location, medical conditions, and status.
This enables first responders to find people quickly and assess injuries – including visitors- by implementing an integrated visitor management system that approves every guest. This ensures everyone on campus is accounted for during an emergency.
Respond to everyday incidents.
It’s good to note that many school safety incidents occur on a smaller, less severe scale. The top mobile panic buttons feature group messaging, allowing staff to communicate and instantly request help from the appropriate responder – like the student resource officer or administrator – before a minor situation escalates.
This can include everything from fights between students and any disruptive activity, including medical incidents, vandalism, and more.
(2022 ‘ASTORS’ Multi Homeland Security Award Winner InformaCast by Singlewire Software, is InformaCast’s Award-Winning Mobile Panic Button that allows users to get quick and discreet help when an emergency arises. Once a mobile panic button is pressed, it notifies the proper authorities. It opens a tracking event so that the administrators can pinpoint the exact location of the emergency and promptly help the user who pressed the panic button. Courtesy of Singlewire Software and YouTube.)
Create a school safety ecosystem.
Each school campus has different needs but should have a robust safety ecosystem. A toolbox of various elements will help ensure all safety incidents are responded to quickly and efficiently, streamlining the emergency response.
The responsibility of ensuring school safety can seem daunting, but these initiatives must be executed with knowledgeable and trusted resources, especially in today’s schools. Implementing and utilizing a truly integrated school safety software platform can be an opportunity to save lives and enhance the overall safety culture.
In the aftermath of an emergency, parents want to know their children are safe and reunite with them as soon as possible. Having a plan and methodology for reunification and conducting tabletop and full-scale exercises can help minimize the trauma following a crisis.
Reunification software can expedite the process, reduce chaos and help ensure a proper chain of custody for each student. Reunification software must include complete role-based workflows and real-time dashboards that can help staff promptly confirm the status of each student.
This can help to reunite families four times faster than paper-and-pencil methods. It also provides a summary report detailing the entire situation, from beginning to end, for after-action review.
Schools can confidently release students to approved guardians following an emergency with an advanced reunification platform. With a connected student information system, the ability to scan the guardian’s ID to check for status or custodial restrictions prevents taking students from one dangerous situation and delivering them to another.
After recording an approved guardian’s signature, reunification software can automatically alert a student’s other authorized guardians notifying them of successful reunification.
Every piece of the puzzle regarding an emergency on a school campus is intricate and critical. Integrated, holistic school safety software provides an all-encompassing solution that will work under duress, with simple navigation and built-in collaboration with critical response and emergency services experts.
From early intervention and emergency response to recovery and reunification after an event, schools can maximize the value of individual safety systems when disparate technologies connect —leading to improved outcomes through seamless preparation, response, and recovery.
About the Author
David Rogers is the CMO of Raptor Technologies, a leading provider of integrated visitor, volunteer, and emergency management software.
David is a proven marketing leader with over 30 years of experience and a strong track record of successfully launching products and driving organic growth for some of the world’s leading tech companies.
American Security Today’s Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards is the preeminent U.S. Homeland Security Awards Program, and now entering it’s Eighth Year, continues to recognize industry leaders of Physical and Border Security, Cybersecurity, Emergency Preparedness – Management and Response, Law Enforcement, First Responders, as well as federal, state and municipal government agencies in the acknowledgment of their outstanding efforts to Keep our Nation Secure.
ZeroEyes (First of Two)
Founded by a group of former Navy SEALs, ZeroEyes has created the only A.I.-based gun detection video analytics platform that holds the US Department of Homeland Security SAFETY Act Designation.
ZeroEyes organically developed its own A.I. and trained it with hundreds of thousands of proprietary images and videos to be one of the most comprehensive and superior gun detection technology on the market.
(What if there was a solution to detect guns before a mass shooting? Now there is. Find out how you can request this technology at your school, business, or facility to save the lives of your kids, teachers, customers, and employees. Courtesy of ZeroEyes and YouTube.)
The software is layered over existing IP security cameras to detect guns the instant that they become visible, then keyframe images of gun detections are then shared with former military and law enforcement experts at the company’s 24/7/365 operations center for human verification.
If a positive confirmation is made, ZeroEyes triggers an automated alert to first responders that include accurate and actionable intelligence about the shooter’s appearance, location, and type of weapon, and this entire process takes place in 3-5 seconds.
ZeroEyes (Second of Two)
ZeroEyes has received over $3M in SBIR grants from the Air Force for R&D to develop innovative solutions for threat identification and response on US military installations.
These projects include Drone-Robot Enabled Active Shooter Deterrence (DRASD) deployments at Ellsworth AFB in Dakota; the development of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) automated threat detection at Minot AFB in North Dakota; and integration into existing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at Delaware’s Dover AFB in Delaware.
ZeroEyes plans to continue working closely with the Air Force and extend its solutions to the broader Department of Defense.
The company currently has contracts across 29 states with a wide range of customers, including the US Department of Defense, public school districts and universities, commercial property groups, manufacturing plants, Fortune 500 corporate campuses, shopping malls, retail, and more.
(Hear actual ZeroEyes customer testimonials in CNN news coverage following the November 30, 2021, mass shooting at Oxford High School, which left four students murdered and seven people injured, including a teacher. Courtesy of CNN, ZeroEyes, and YouTube.)
ZeroEyes is also a new competitor in the 2022 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program.
In addition, the continually evolving ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program will highlight the trail of Accomplished Women in Leadership in 2023 and the Significance and Positive Impact of Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in our Next Generation of Government and Industry Leaders. #MentorshipMatters
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Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2023 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards at https://americansecuritytoday.com/ast-awards/.
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