Technology and the School Safety Ecosystem: Fostering Safer Schools

Technology and the School Safety Ecosystem: Fostering Safer Schools

There are a variety of channels that encompass the ‘safety ecosystem’ in schools. School safety and police officers, training, threat assessment, procedures and protocols for emergencies, compliance, and technology infrastructure essentials like emergency notification systems, video surveillance, and access control systems can all play a vital role in keeping schools and districts safe before, during, and after emergencies like active shooter events.

But, just how can school districts apply this multichannel safety and communications approach to their own campuses to prevent tragedies like the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas?

Let’s explore the connection between effective emergency response plans and the technology that supports them as part of the comprehensive school safety ecosystem.

The School Safety Ecosystem and Planning For Emergencies

The school safety ecosystem includes a wide range of considerations, personnel, and components – including process, protocol, technology. When considering the ecosystem as a whole, it’s important to recognize that the composition of each school is unique, each with its own geographic layout, infrastructure, and communications needs. That means the plans that will be most effective in an emergency are equally distinctive.

In The Building Blocks To School Safety Toolkit from the Readiness and Emergency Management For Schools Technical Assistance Center, The U.S. Department of Education outlines the tools school districts can use to develop effective emergency operations plans (EOPs). It notes that high-quality emergency plans are supported by school safety ecosystem elements including leadership and technology infrastructure. The report also recognizes the importance of considering times and circumstances, customizing plans at the building-by-building level, and addressing the unique needs of the entire school community.

At Eastern DataComm, our consultative and diagnostic approach allows us to ensure that our customers’ school safety and security technology infrastructure supports such plans.

The customized solutions we recommend and implement for the school districts we serve connect key aspects of the school safety ecosystem like law enforcement, prevention, communication, risk management, and technology. These approaches are designed to enhance communication within and between the different parts of that system, creating a comprehensive approach to emergency response.

We work with clients to personalize their technology solutions, including their emergency notification systems, to the specific needs of their individual schools and (where appropriate) the district as a whole.

In the National Institute of Justice’s Comprehensive Report on School Safety Technology, the U.S. Department of Justice notes that technologies like connecting security systems to mobile devices, using cloud-based systems, enhanced video surveillance, and integrated hardware and software can be part of effective school safety technology infrastructure.

The report further states that decisions about investing in such security technologies are multilayer assessments that need to account for the school district’s unique economic and logistical factors among others. The Department of Justice recommends a comprehensive and collaborative evaluation and planning process before selecting technology solutions.

Learning From Tragedy: Using Technology to Reduce The Chances Of Human Error During Emergency Events

When it comes to emergencies, it goes without saying that the one hope is that everyone involved will do the best that they can to respond effectively. However, the stress and urgency of the moment can lead to human error that can cost both time and lives.

As such, integrating technology assets like emergency notification systems, access control, and video surveillance within the school safety ecosystem is essential. It limits the potential for misjudgment by automating critical portions of the emergency notification and response process.

When integrated properly, these solutions can provide holistic coverage of school campuses, leading to rapid response times. Simply put, leveraging technology helps to inform, connect, and engage multiple parts of the school safety ecosystem swiftly to better ensure safety for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

Response time is the key factor that can make or break the positive resolution of an emergency situation. In the wake of the recent school shooting tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, we’re reminded that human error is possible and what results from it in dire circumstances can be catastrophic.

According to a timeline of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting provided by CNN, at 11:28 AM the shooter crashed his car near the school. U.S. Marshals noted that a 911 call was received at 11:30. By 11:31 the suspect had traversed the parking lot and began shooting at the school. Uvalde police arrived moments later at 11:35, but by 11:33 the shooter was already inside, firing multiple rounds into a classroom.

Within mere minutes, the devastation had already begun. Finally, at 12:50 PM, officers unlocked the door to the classroom where the shooter was and killed the gunman.

Even with a great deal of police presence, the shooter was able to enter the building and perpetrate horrendous acts of violence against unarmed, innocent victims during the very early minutes of arriving in the building.

Aside from the reminder that classroom and exterior doors should remain locked during the school day, lessons learned from this tragedy highlight that without an automated emergency notification system, petrified teachers and students could be the ones to make 911 calls instead of having such notifications automated, quickening response times and reducing potential human error.

As evidenced by this example and the many other unfortunate headlines we’ve already read about school shootings, the world has shifted considerably in the last few years. We continue to see gun violence and aggression on school campuses increase across the country for a myriad of reasons. As an organization, Eastern DataComm could not sit idly by while our nation continues to lose children, teachers, and school administrators to violent acts. Though we cannot stop someone from making the decision to cause harm, we can do our part to help make the future a safer one.

LENS + OPTICS: Rapid And Effective Emergency Notification For Your School Safety Ecosystem

To better safeguard our communities, Eastern DataComm has developed the lockdown and emergency notification system and continuous monitoring service, LENS + OPTICS. The system is designed to effectively communicate danger quickly to mitigate damage and loss of life.

Whether it’s an active shooter, lockdown, or another urgent event, thoughtful planning and an understanding of the school safety ecosystem combined with effective technology solutions help

school districts respond more effectively and foster safer school environments. And as we all can agree, a safe school environment empowers the learning and growth that educational institutions aim to achieve.

Learn more about LENS+OPTICS

Discover The Most Effective Ways To Support Your School Safety Ecosystem With Eastern DataComm

When it comes to school safety, we’re all in this together.

Our team of advisors and technicians is here to share our years of experience and insight on safety and communications technology solutions to help you better protect your school community when every second counts.

To learn more about how our team can help you design and implement an effective emergency notification system for your school district, book your complimentary School Safety Consultation by completing this contact form.