Park Ridge (NJ) School District
District Implements Leading-Edge Communication And Emergency Notification Systems With Help From Eastern DataComm.
The Park Ridge School District comprises three schools with more than 1,200 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
Events like Superstorm Sandy and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were shocking demonstrations of the need for reliable emergency notification and communications systems.
After months of research and investigation, the New Jersey School Board Association’s (NJSBA) School Security Task Force made several recommendations, including the development of redundant communications and multifunction notification systems that integrate with local police and emergency responders.
The Park Ridge School District then worked steadfastly to implement and enhance their phone system as well as their communication and emergency notification technologies, relying on the expertise of the Eastern DataComm team to strategize and execute against this goal.
“We first started working with Eastern DataComm to update our phone system more than 15 years ago, and we’ve been working with them on upgrades ever since,” said Bob Wright, Business Administrator for the Park Ridge Board of Education. “They are very reliable, and they can do a lot of different things for us. It’s very handy to have someone like that as a vendor.”
District officials first contacted Eastern DataComm to discuss replacing an on-premises PBX phone system that was no longer meeting their needs. The aging analog system did not support basic features such as voicemail, and phones could only be placed in common areas such as the main office and the teacher’s lounge. Infrastructure issues made it cost-prohibitive to wire buildings for classroom phones.
Eastern DataComm recommended a Mitel Voice-over-IP (VoIP) system that delivers far more flexible communications. Fiber trunk cabling can support multiple users and devices, making it possible to put phones in every classroom without running individual cables for each phone.
The fact that the phone system operates over an IP network has allowed the district to integrate paging and school intercom system applications that improve emergency notification capabilities in all three of their school buildings. All phones have a built-in interface that allows teachers, administrators, and staffers to use a telephone handset to page someone or make building-wide announcements.
“It has been a very good system,” said Wright. “We’ve had very few interruptions in service over the years, and the system is very easy to understand and use. Sometimes with Voice-over-IP, there can be issues with latency where you’ll actually hear yourself speaking through the line, but they’ve done a very good job of eliminating that. It sounds just like you’re talking through a wired phone line.”
An Advanced Emergency Notification System: LENS + OPTICS
School officials were excited to learn that more advanced security features could operate on top of the newly upgraded phone system including an advanced school safety system.
“Using the phone system that we already had, we could install this system that could provide real-time information to police and other designated contacts in the district. We went through a couple of presentations and found that we really liked this product.”
The product that impressed Park Ridge School District officials most was Eastern DataComm’s Lockdown Emergency Notification System (LENS). The system uses a proprietary controller to link the Mitel phone system with other features across the IP network including:
- School intercom systems
- Strobe lights
- LED sign boards
LENS allows teachers, staff, or administrators to quickly begin lockdown, evacuation, active shooter alerts, or shelter-in-place procedures. The LENS Solution can be initiated from any school phone or any of the activation buttons installed in common areas.
Once activated, the system initiates screen-pop alerts on phones throughout all school buildings and the Board of Education office, along with intercom audio messages, strobe lights, and LED sign board messages. A wireless radio component ensures that the notification reaches all outdoor spaces, including parking lots and sports fields.
An emergency notification also triggers automatic calls to 911, police, and fire departments.
Time is of the essence in an emergency, and LENS allows teachers, staff, or administrators to quickly initiate lockdown, evacuation, or shelter-in-place procedures. LENS can be activated from any school phone or from any of the several “stopper” buttons installed in common areas.
LENS brings all of these processes together to provide a comprehensive, seamless approach to emergency notification that is as rapid and effective as possible.
“People can now initiate a lockdown regardless of where they are in the building, whereas before you would have had to go to a designated area,” said Wright. “When we run drills, I get both a text message and a phone call — and it happens in the instant that something is triggered. We’ve been using it now for several months and it’s been working great.”
A Diagnostic And Consultative Partner For Your Safety And Communications Technology Needs
Wright has come to expect great solutions from Eastern DataComm.
“It’s been a very good relationship… The products are very good and their service is great. If you do have an issue, they will respond to you same day — which is almost unheard of, especially in the telecommunications industry.”
And what truly sets Eastern DataComm apart from others in our field is that we become your school physical security consulting partner utilizing our comprehensive diagnostic, collaborative, and consultative approach to safety and communications solutions.