Recent events have once again provided tragic reminders of the fact that extreme violence can take place in a space once thought to be perfectly safe from threats from the outside world – schools.
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A single violent incident on school property anywhere is bad enough, but they have become an unfortunate part of the regular news cycle. Increasing frustration with their frequent occurrence has fueled movements to make changes to prevent them. Everyone is united in the belief that we cannot allow teachers, students, staff and others to be routinely threatened with mortal dangers on school grounds.
But this is where the agreement usually ends and turns into a stalemate that remains focused on politics, policies and disagreements about how to best safeguard school grounds.
One problem with this situation is that it often overlooks the role that technology can play both in the early stages of developing crises and the official response once certain incidents escalate to deadly proportions.
At Kontakt.io, we see many similarities between the needs of schools, teachers and educational institutions and those of the hospitals, nurses and healthcare facilities that we already serve with our IoT-based staff duress solutions.
These solutions have proven to be very effective and are already used in facilities around the world. By leveraging our RTLS (real time location services) solutions and Bluetooth® Low Energy, we make it possible to provide a level of virtual security that provides both near-instant backup for those faced with a crisis and visibility to those responding to the trouble.
While no solution can completely prevent unfortunate confrontations and incidents, RTLS solutions provide a sense of security for teachers and students, no matter where they are in a facility. Digital tools from Kontakt.io can provide a virtual security blanket that covers students and staff at all times and places. Help is always a press of a button away and that button is always with them, ready to call for help that will know exactly where to go immediately.
Here are just a few ways location-based data can help prevent or mitigate the effects of violence in schools.
This refers to any circumstances in which staff - in this case, teachers or school administrators - feel the need to call for help because of a dangerous situation.
With our solutions, we still rely on alarms to call for assistance, but now they’re the digital kind, activated easily and discreetly from anywhere. This is done through the use of a smart badge, which looks like any other badge often worn by school staff. This badge, however, is enabled with a sensor that broadcasts location information and is connected to a virtual network powered by Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth ® LE) at all times.
A simple button on the badge, when pressed, sends a signal to the network which can be forwarded in several forms — text message, email, notification, etc. — or simply as a direct call for help. Instead of guessing the precise location of a confrontation by searching the area where an alarm is sounding, responders can see the exact place the call for help comes from on a digital map of the facility, so no time is wasted during the response.
Since the alarm is triggered from a wearable badge, teachers are covered wherever they go in the area monitored by the wireless deployment. No need to look for a place to pull a conventional alarm – the wearable badge goes with you everywhere. The badge is the alarm.
The benefits of RTLS-based duress solutions for educational settings start with an increased sense of safety for teachers, staff and students but don’t end there:
RTLS-based solutions can also play a crucial role in enabling quick responses to violent incidents by providing live, real-time, highly accurate information about how many and which students are in a particular location or classroom.
This information can inform the actions of first responders, tell school administrators how many students may be in danger and form the basis of “safe” lists of students who are fully accounted for. As long as everyone involved has their smart badges with them, their locations can be pinpointed when every second counts.
The same ability teachers have to call for help in duress situations works in reverse to track their location when they need to be located in an emergency. Anyone with a smart badge can be located in real time and they can be searched for by name if their identity is matched to a particular badge.
So not only can teachers summon help when they need it, they can also easily be found during dangerous situations they may not be aware of. This ability to locate and find particular teachers can assist greatly in calling for help, evacuating students or any number of other ways.
Mustering is another term for gathering or collecting a group of people who are inside a building, usually in the context of an emergency when you want to make sure that everyone has been safely led outside.
This could be necessary during scenarios where this is still an active threat or other potentially dangerous situations like fire alarms. With the mustering capabilities enabled by RTLS, you can instantly tell if anyone is left inside a building and, if so, identify their exact location for law enforcement or first responders.
Digitized mustering gives you an accurate headcount of who has been evacuated from a space and who is still left inside.
There is a legal compliance angle to this topic as well. “Alyssa’s Law”, named after a victim of school violence in 2018, mandates the use of silent panic alert systems with direct connections to first responders and law enforcement agencies in all schools. The law has been passed in New Jersey and Florida, and is currently under consideration in five more states. Legislation has been introduced at the federal level as well.
Combined with our partner offerings, Kontakt.io’s solution for mitigating the effects of violence on school grounds satisfies the requirements of Alyssa’s Law, which is likely to gain momentum nationwide as the issue continues to attract media attention and momentum behind it.
Obviously, we wish we never had to discuss this topic but the reality is that safety in schools is a priority in ways that we couldn’t imagine not so long ago.
Now is the time to invest in solutions that bypass other aspects of the debate and address the practical side of the situation – equipping teachers, administrators and others will accessible tools that are easy to use, ultra-portable and part of digital networks that connect them to the world outside of the classroom when up-to-the-second information is crucial.
If you’re looking for ways to add an extra layer of security to your school contact our sales team today.
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