Our Eastern DataComm team recently hosted a series of live, in-person seminars spanning New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut. School officials and stakeholders whose responsibility it is to ensure the safety of their campuses came from far and wide to join us for this educational experience. The series was incredibly well-received by our attendees and today, we’re sharing the key takeaways from the seminars so you can benefit from the insight we offered, even if you could not join us at one of the locations for the live events.
1) Apps Are Not Enough
One of the biggest takeaways many attendees received from our latest seminar series was the understanding that apps alone are not enough to sufficiently connect and protect their communities in an emergency situation. While those who fell victim to the active shooter in Uvalde, TX, had an app, bad cell service rendered it ineffectual. And this is not simply an issue faced by that single Texas elementary school. Across the country, schools, especially those with older buildings, struggle with less-than-effective cell service. This can not only slow down app-based notifications, but it can also prevent them from working at all. The result: some people do not receive the notification, and that can place them in imminent danger. Another key point worth mentioning: apps such as the one used in this case study only work IF the user has their phone with them and is able to access it. Oftentimes, this isn’t the case for teachers and students in the course of their daily educational and extracurricular activities.
You can learn more about the significant limitations of phone application-only emergency notification solutions in our past webinar on the subject here. You’ll also discover how a comprehensive school safety ecosystem, featuring integrated technology, can offer you a more robust alternative that’s far more effective when every second counts.
2) ‘Full Coverage’ Is of the Utmost Importance
Another key takeaway from our latest in-person School Safety seminar series was the importance of total coverage. This phrase means that all people in your buildings and on your grounds, from substitute teachers and visitors to staff and students, quickly receive emergency notifications. In addition, those emergency notifications must be clear, concise, and prompt action that is an appropriate response for the situation at hand.
And far from being simply a buzz phrase, total coverage is the cornerstone of keeping your school and those in it connected and protected.
While it may seem obvious to some, often stakeholders do not realize where vulnerabilities in coverage may exist until an emergency occurs.
At that point, the safety of the campus and grounds are placed in jeopardy as a result.
The Eastern DataComm team takes the time to understand your needs and your potential areas of vulnerability when it comes to total coverage and effective mass notification.
3) Understanding Your Areas of Potential Vulnerability Is Essential
According to a recent survey by School Safety Magazine, school officials were often pleased with flexible, fast, and reliable systems that allow for a variety of swift and clear communication approaches. Those communications either exist or occur within the same system (like SMS messages, sirens, push notifications, automated phone calls, on-screen communication, and more). This integrated, multimodal technology approach makes their systems versatile for unique student populations and a myriad of challenging school situations that may occur before, during, and/or after school emergencies.
From recognizing the needs of your unique student populations to dealing with communication issues in remote areas of your campus, you may face a variety of potential vulnerabilities when it comes to ensuring everyone on your campus can effectively receive notifications, understand what those messages/signals mean, and respond accordingly during an emergency.
As we shared with our seminar attendees, we offer a diagnostic and consultative approach to school safety that takes the guesswork out of improving your school safety ecosystem.
Part of this process includes asking questions about your school environment, current technology, and what you need your safety and physical security solutions to achieve for you.
As we connect with you, we pay careful attention to the needs of the population that traffics your campus. This allows our team to deliver a comprehensive system that not only quickly and accurately communicates with your school community, but also allows them to easily understand what those emergency notifications mean – regardless of sensory ability.
When analyzing your current school safety profile, our team not only recognizes areas where you exceed safety guidelines, but we also explore where vulnerabilities exist to offer potential improvements you could make to enhance your safety, communications, and physical security technology.
Simply put: We help you discover the changes you can make to keep your community connected and protected.
4) Policies and Procedures Are Simply One Part of the Equation
The right policies and procedures are no doubt effective ways to keep your school districts safe, but as we shared with our attendees when we discussed the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting tragedy, there are factors beyond policy that can enhance your ability to follow those procedures when the time comes.
Executing what you and your school community practiced during drills is an exercise in consistency.
Drills, when coupled with the right technology, can bring down response time and bring up the safety and security of your buildings and grounds during an emergency.
As one of our customers will attest to, “With our drills, we’re locked down, basically clearing the halls within 10 seconds … And the more quickly we secure the buildings, that’s more lives that we’re going to save.“
- Burlington County, NJ School District Safety and Emergency Management Coordinator
So, while we always encourage our customers to continue rehearsing for potential emergency situations through drills and enhancing policy or procedure to keep up with evolving safety needs, we also help them couple those practices with the right communications and safety technology solutions. This empowers our customers to feel confident that they’re doing all they can to keep those entrusted in their care safe and sound.
5) Clear Communication Is Part of the Safe Response Process
When you’re notifying an entire campus of an active threat or emergency situation, you need your messages to come through quickly and clearly. That way, the response from law enforcement and first responders can occur rapidly – mitigating damage and saving lives.
According to the aforementioned School Safety Magazine Survey, challenges with message delivery verification impacted over 20% of respondents, and 23% had issues with the clarity of their sirens and loudspeakers.
Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of them, over 40% of K–12 campuses plan to upgrade a variety of notification technologies including their paging systems and intercoms.
And as we explained to our School Safety seminar attendees, our LENS + OPTICS system includes the ability to create a conference call with key stakeholders.
With our state-of-the-art visual and audio communication technology, paging system announcements, signboards, emergency calls to first responders, and other approaches to communication are fully automated. Working with telephony industry leader Mitel, phone systems allow for an added layer of security ensuring those you contact can hear you loud and clear when it matters most.
The result is streamlined communication that allows you to focus on responding in that moment – be you a student on camera or a police officer arriving at the scene. Ultimately, clear communication delivered through the use of integrated, multimodal technology keeps everyone safe.
6) Integrating Your Technology Removes Potential Human Error
School Safety Magazine recently surveyed respondents to understand the challenges they faced when creating effective mass notification approaches for their schools and districts.
Those challenges included:
- a lack of support from vendors
- few, if any, options for flexible integration with new technology
- time delays in message delivery
- an undersupply of visual alert lights
- failing speakers or paging devices
- need for total coverage in areas like outdoor fields, cafeterias, and gyms
The respondents shared that they were looking for more from their emergency notification and response technologies. And at Eastern DataComm, through years of listening and attending to those pain points for our customers in the education, business, and municipal sectors, we know exactly what they mean. That’s why we do things differently.
When you rely on your teachers, volunteers, staff, or administrators to execute every step of your mass notification and emergency response process manually, you run the risk of human error. Even the most well-trained stakeholders can make a mistake when tensions are high and time is of the essence.
As we shared with our attendees, this is the exact reason you’ll want a streamlined, comprehensive, and integrated emergency response system.
From video surveillance and FCC-compliant multi-line phone systems to access control and emergency response notifications, when everything is working together seamlessly in a self-monitoring system you have greater peace of mind.
And if it sounds too good to be true, rest assured it’s not.
At Eastern DataComm, we call LENS + OPTICS our solution to the challenges that have plagued school officials when addressing their comprehensive school safety concerns.
When every second counts, you can rely upon our lockdown and emergency notification system and continuous monitoring service (LENS + OPTICS) to help you quickly and effectively communicate danger and save lives.
LENS + OPTICS allows you to instantly alert everyone during a critical situation. At the push of a button, you can automatically institute a lockdown, evacuation, or shelter-in-place during an active threat or other emergency.
And because technology is at the core of this response, you remove the chance for human error.
Keep Your School Connected and Protected with Eastern DataComm
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