Have you ever marveled at the portrayal of technology in spy movies like The Bourne Identity or Mission: Impossible? Believe it or not, this type of technology is now available to school administrators and staff, enabling them to address emergency situations in real time with high-tech software that would make Mission: Impossible’s Luther Stickell jealous.
In many school districts today, staff members and occasionally visitors and volunteers must undergo background checks to ensure that they have not previously been convicted of any crimes which might put children at risk. There are few places left in the country where towns are small enough that everyone knows everyone else, hence the rise in popularity of quick and economical background checks on the people both directly and indirectly involved in school operations.
Online personality and psychological exams are also exploding in popularity due to the ease of administration — some can be taken right from a smartphone or tablet rather than having to be completed at a professional brick-and-mortar institution. Certain institutions even provide access to 24/7 online emotional wellness options to help mitigate the potential for incidents on campus.
Advanced Software Solutions
Lack of real-time communication or the ability to immediately send out emergency alerts and coordinate movement has long been a topic of concern. But luckily, a host of software and mobile apps have come out which can provide connectivity, lower response times, and sometimes even predict threats before they arise. Alpha Recon, LLC utilizes military technology that is now available to the public to provide school administrators with a real-time monitoring and action platform that includes GPS monitoring as well as threat assessment and risk management using AI and algorithms that can turn a school administration computer or tablet into a central command station.
Mobile phone networks and mobile devices owned by students and staff give schools the ability to leverage a pre-existing infrastructure to increase communication and immediate awareness of issues. There are a variety of apps focusing on campus safety that can become part of your comprehensive plan to improve campus-wide communication and threat reporting. Some of these broadcast GPS coordinates to first responders or provide things like a silent alarm feature in the event of an emergency.
One challenge with security hardware involving doors and access to buildings is the ability to keep intruders out or contained while easily and efficiently enabling a high volume of people to pass through in daily activity or emergency activation. There are a variety of simple solutions employed to make it harder for an intruder to acquire targets. An Iowa teacher invented one such solution, designing a sleeve that can quickly slip onto a door-closer arm to prevent the door from being opened. Another idea which uses existing reflective window film technology is employed to prevent intruders from seeing into and targeting people in buildings or classrooms, and some are even bulletproof as well.
Advanced technology utilizing acoustic software embedded in the walls of a building helps first responders quickly identify the location of an active shooter. Schools are now employing RFID technology embedded in badges and access-control systems that can prevent unauthorized access and lockdown doors remotely in the event of an emergency.
These types of technologies will continue to evolve rapidly, and new solutions keep coming from innovators both inside and outside of the school system. While budget concerns always cause school administrators to weigh implementation carefully, enhancing the safety of students and staff in schools is a priority on which everyone can agree.