Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
Scott Deutschman, EVP Mobile Platforms at DMI
The recent and incredibly tragic school shootings in the US has increased the focus on school and campus safety exponentially. Even with the UK’s stricter gun laws, the risk of injury or death is still very real for UK education institutions.
The issue is particularly acute due to the lack of security personnel at schools. There is an urgent need for schools to become more secure, while on the flip side, not turning schools into prisons.
Traditional safety measures, such as sign-in sheets and locked doors, are no longer enough. Rather, reducing the response time of emergency personnel is critical to neutralising gun threats and mitigating insider threats, such as severe bullying.
The most effective way to accomplish this is through technology that nearly every student and staff member already has at their fingertips. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and networked communications have the power to make the difference between life and death.
In the not too distant future on or around campus, students will be able to anonymously report a shooting, medical emergency, or severe bullying to authorities. Mobile apps will provide both school personnel and public safety officers with critical, time-sensitive and potentially life-saving details about the emergency prior to their arrival on scene.
During an emergency, administrators and safety personnel will be able to issue location-based notifications to students, such as directions on where to head for shelter, what areas need to be avoided, and the exact location of anyone seeking help. These critical insights will empower emergency personnel to execute an effective response and will also help give parents peace of mind when they send their children to school.
Social media will also play a role. Leveraging real-time analytics and heat maps based upon keyword searches of social media posts within specific geographic areas, it will be possible to discover potential security threats much earlier during emergency situations than in the past.
The use of mobile apps for safety and communication in schools is still an emerging technology and largely in the testing and piloting stage. But soon, when integrated with other security controls a school may already have, such as CCTV and a first response system, many schools will have access to a universal dashboard with the ability monitor all happenings on campus, providing rapid emergency deployment as necessary.
Student safety is paramount. Schools everywhere should begin exploring emerging mobile app technologies to reimagine emergency response protocols with the ability to leverage the eyes and ears of an entire school community, if and when disaster strikes.
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