CASE STUDY

Freehold Borough (NJ) School District

Eastern DataComm Helps District Streamline and Automate Security Systems
Through Improved Technology Integration

A recent three-year study by Mississippi State University researchers concluded that poorly integrated technologies create significant operational barriers for public school systems. That finding came as no surprise to administrators with the Freehold Borough School District in New Jersey. They’ve been actively working to improve the integration of key communication and security technologies for several years with help from the experts at Eastern DataComm.

The Challenge

The district comprises three schools that serve students in pre-K through the eighth grade, although the elementary and intermediate schools are housed in the same building complex. A few years ago, the district recognized that improved integration of telephone, intercom, and security systems would deliver a broad range of important benefits.

In 2015, officials began investigating ways to enhance district-wide communications. Of particular concern were the:

Aging Phone System: In 2015, officials began investigating ways to enhance district-wide communications including an aging PBX phone system that included more than 200 lines, which required manual routing to get incoming calls to the right person.

Separate Intercom Systems: School intercom systems were another cause for concern. Each of the three schools, including the two in the same building, had completely distinct public-address (PA) systems.

Technology, Security, and Communication Integration: These other challenges meant that, in the event of an emergency, the main office at each school had to be notified individually so they could make their own separate announcements.

“These were some of the things that prompted us to look for a better solution,” said Joe Howe, Business Administrator for Freehold Borough Schools. “The first thing we wanted to do was upgrade to a VoIP phone system. We got a number of proposals, and we decided to go with Eastern DataComm.”

The Eastern DataComm Solution

Eastern DataComm addressed these challenges while enhancing security with a customized set of solutions.

Integrating the Phone System with Security and Communication Technologies

Now, the new phone system could be tightly integrated with a number of school security technologies through Eastern DataComm’s Lockdown and Emergency Notification System (LENS). The LENS Solution integrates the phone system with PA systems to create a fully automated emergency-notification system.

Utilizing the Lockdown and Emergency Notification System (LENS)

Using a patented system controller, LENS delivers notifications such as pre-recorded announcements via the school’s paging system speakers, LED sign boards, strobes/beacons, wireless speakers, messages to key school administrators, and simultaneous calls to 911 and the local police. The LENS system can initiate lockdown, evacuation, or shelter-in-place procedures within 20 seconds after a threat is recognized.

A More Efficient Approach to Emergency Responses

The system also ensures that emergency responders receive a “dispatchable location” to eliminate delays and confusion. Instead of simply receiving a street address with incoming calls, this capability gives 911 dispatchers additional important information, such as room number or floor number, to accurately identify the location of the threat.
“The integration and automation were really attractive to us,” said Howe. “We now have a system that enables all those emergency measures to happen without our intervention.”

Addressing the Emergent Technology Needs of the District

Another feature proved extremely valuable when schools first reopened after pandemic-triggered closures: Upon entering the buildings, taking the temperature of students and staff created a bottleneck effect with hallway traffic. But Eastern DataComm’s solution integrated temperature scanning and reporting to streamline and expedite the process.

“At the time, I was speaking to one of the Eastern DataComm staff who asked about our biggest challenges,” Howe said. “I told them that taking the temperature of students and staff coming into the buildings was creating a bottleneck. Unbeknownst to me, they had just developed a system to integrate temperature scanning and reporting into the system to streamline that process.

“That’s the kind of thing that gives us a great deal of confidence in Eastern DataComm’s abilities.”

How Freehold Borough School District Officials
Describe the Experience

Joe Howe, the Business Administrator for Freehold Borough Schools, said the team at Eastern DataComm earned his trust by demonstrating both a high level of technical expertise and a deep understanding of the unique technology challenges in a public school setting.

“The integration and automation were really attractive to us. We now have a system that enables all those emergency measures to happen without our intervention. Eastern DataComm not only installed all these systems, but they also maintain and monitor them for us. If there’s an issue they can’t handle remotely, they’ll come onsite at a moment’s notice. That is really important in terms of our business continuity and running our operations… It has just been a very key relationship that helps us maintain the safety of our students, which to me, is number one… So, it’s really important for me as a school administrator to work with people that I trust and who are responsive — and that’s what Eastern DataComm has proven to be all along.”

Joe Howe, Business Administrator for Freehold Borough Schools

Address Your Communication and Security Challenges
with Eastern DataComm

If your district is encountering challenges like the ones that Freehold Borough School District faced, contact Eastern DataComm for a complimentary School Safety Consultation today by calling 888-902-4091 or emailing us at inquiry@easterndatacomm.com.