How Emergency Notification, Communication and Automation Improve School and Office Safety
Recent tragedies involving violence at our schools and places of work have made safety a top-of-mind issue across the country. Many states, counties and municipalities have passed or are considering legislation that mandates increased security measures and greater cooperation between schools, law enforcement and the community at large. Public- and private-sector organizations are dedicating budget dollars to security technologies and training programs designed to enhance safety.
Traditionally, schools and larger office spaces have focused on perimeter security such as video surveillance and access controls to prevent intruders from entering their facilities. While these tools are beneficial, experts agree that crisis planning and staff training in lockdown procedures play a more critical role in safety. Lockdown drills are recommended best practices that enable schools and offices to test security protocols and give staff an opportunity to practice procedures. With proper training, human beings can assess situations, make quick decisions and communicate vital information that saves lives.
But the human element can also be a weak link in security. Training and drills can at best simulate an emergency. In an actual crisis it’s difficult to predict how human beings will react.
Delaware Valley Regional High School District recognized this weakness and sought an automated emergency notification solution that could be activated from virtually anywhere on campus. The district asked Eastern DataComm to implement our Lockdown and Emergency Notification System (LENS), which promptly notifies teachers, students and staff of an emergency situation and to immediately initiate lockdown procedures.
Delaware Valley had a 30-year-old PBX and a poorly functioning PA system that had been extended over time. The project involved implementing a ShoreTel Unified Communications system, revamping the PA system and integrating both with the L.E.N.S. Entering a code on any ShoreTel phone triggers an automated system that calls 911, alerts administrative staff and causes a series of prerecorded announcements to be played over the PA system.
Because audible announcements cannot always be heard, the system also activates strobe lights, and the district is planning to add digital signage that will display emergency messages. Wireless transmitters using the same FM bands as first responders extend the system to outdoor facilities, parking lots and other areas where wiring is cost-prohibitive.
The emergency procedures can also be initiated via a mobile app installed on smartphones. This enables administrators to utilize the L.E.N.S. remotely, and allows teachers to summons help in the event of an emergency on a sports field or other outdoor location.
In adopting LENS by Eastern DataComm, Delaware Valley has been able to meet best practices set by the New Jersey State Police for rapid response in a crisis. The New Jersey School Security Task Force, among other authorities, have prioritized the implementation of emergency communications systems as a means of improving school safety. The automation enabled by the LENS speeds response times and reduces confusion, panic and misinformation by ensuring that information is disseminated swiftly and clearly.
No school or office wants to be the site of the next tragedy. Let us show you how the LENS can help you enhance safety through automated emergency response and notifications. Contact us today to discuss your emergency notification needs.