“People not only need to be safe, they need to feel safe as well.”

As a Massachusetts-based company, ELERTS has been particularly interested in the Task Force on School Safety and Security convened by Governor Deval Patrick earlier this year.

With the issuance of their official Report this week, we see signs of encouragement in the attention being given to this critical issue, but we are reminded that too many schools have yet to avail themselves of existing tools and technology.

Background

The Task Force was established to identify and synthesize current best practices in school safety, with the goal of reducing the risk of and improving response to threats and hazards. While promoting the importance of physical security, the Report also covers the importance of psychological security, an aspect that is sometimes overlooked.

ELERTS addresses both needs – by offering a mobile communication solution that can integrate with Access Control and Video Surveillance systems for enhanced physical security – and an in-hand, smartphone communications tool for psychological security.

The Report outlines 4 steps in Emergency Management Planning: prevent, prepare, respond, and recover—all connected by the critical components of communication and collaboration.

ELERTS apps establish a bi-directional communication channel that, unlike a one-time alarm, stays open as volatile events unfold, connecting teachers to each other and directly to local police.

The Report goes on to recognize the value of emerging technology. “Each school should have a system for school staff to communicate with each other as well as first responders during an incident. The school cannot depend on the school’s public address or internal phone system. Using the public address system during an intruder incident not only gives information to staff, but also to the assailants. Schools may want to consider ways to use smartphone technology…”

ELERTS Lock It Down and ELERTS See Say apps accommodate text messages, photos, and GPS map. This important visual context can help make First Responders, faster responders. By crowd-sourcing the public (teachers, staff, and students), ELERTS adds human analytics to the security equation.

Findings:

  • The Report notes the importance of having a safety plan and people trained in executing it. “As an incident occurs, all school staff members need to know their roles and responsibilities.”

ELERTS is an exclusive Partner in Safety with the ALICE Training Institute, the active shooter preparation platform mentioned in this Report. ALICE advocates Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate as best practices for situational response. Staff trained in ALICE protocol and enlightened with ELERTS information can be smarter and more decisive in their actions.

  • The Report states “A robust School Safety Plan spells out clearly how a school will carry out evacuation, shelter-in-place, lockdown, and family reunification protocols. In particular, codes are not used and technical language is avoided to reduce confusion.”

Ease and speed govern ELERTS usability objectives. ELERTS Lock It Down app features 2 bold buttons for “Police” and “Lockdown;” ELERTS See Say offers “Call Police” or “Report a Problem” buttons. Lock It Down has Lockdown, Evacuate, and Shelter in Place commands that can be initiated by authorized users anywhere cellular of WiFi service is enabled. There are no codes to enter or equipment to install.

Recommendations:

The Task Force offers some concrete recommendations that we support:

  • Each school building and municipality should establish a school safety and security team
  • All districts should regularly evaluate the communications tools available to ensure that teachers and school administrators can easily communicate with police and first responders during an incident
  • At the state level, there should be a Technical Assistance Team to help schools improve their safety plans (at the district’s request). ELERTS would welcome a chance to work with these teams.
  • The state should develop or purchase an anonymous threat reporting mechanism program to allow citizens (especially students) to anonymously report threats of school violence.

ELERTS already offers anonymous reporting technology as used by the MBTA (via ELERTS Transit™.) Reports may be sent anonymously and the app automatically disables the phone camera flash for added discretion. ELERTS Lock It Down and ELERTS See Say apps are ideal for reporting bullying, vandalism, or criminal behavior without face-to-face engagement.

See how one Massachusetts school system is already ahead of the curve with ELERTS Lock It Down and ELERTS See Say. http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140501/NEWS/140509964

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