School days can be unpredictable. From student illness to interpersonal conflict to lockdown drills, education professionals must constantly adapt to new circumstances. Districts need school alert systems that are designed for rapid, effective responses to the many emergencies that occur on school campuses every day.
School safety is becoming a nationwide priority for lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, and school districts. Many have responded to the increase in school shootings with security requirements and funding for safety measures in schools. A tragic record was set in 2022 when the K-12 Shooting Database reported 304 school shootings. Casualties occur in large numbers as a result of these incidents. By investing in school alert system technology that is designed to enable every member of staff to request immediate emergency assistance, districts shorten emergency response times and nurture a culture of safety in schools.
While school shootings remain very unlikely scenarios there are many other situations in which effective school safety technology helps protect staff and students. When staff members have access to mobile panic technology, they can request assistance when:
- a student or staff member experiences a medical emergency
- students are fighting
- a student threatens a staff member or fellow student
- a student threatens or engages in self-harm
- a student leaves campus without permission
Incidents like these can occur at every school level and for various reasons. A multi-layered school safety platform can help nurture the well-being of students and staff by providing quick access to first responders and making campuses more secure.
How to Choose a School Safety Platform
Amidst school safety concerns and legislation requiring schools to implement school alert systems, districts are investing in school safety platforms. A school safety platform should meet the following five criteria to best protect students and staff.
Consideration 1: Integrated and Multi-Layered Emergency Response
The right safety platform will integrate seamlessly into a school’s multi-layered safety plan. Most districts do not have the funding or bandwidth to engage in large infrastructure projects, so new safety technologies must interface effectively with existing systems, including walkie-talkies and intercom systems. The right platform will also integrate with a school’s access control systems and visitor management systems.
When new technology is added to a school’s existing school safety plan, staff must be able to easily use it; seamless integration ensures this ease of use.
A multi-layered school safety plan includes a platform with:
- mobile panic buttons
- automated alerts
- real-time communication capabilities during emergencies
Consideration 2: Customizable, Scalable Solutions
Every school, and every crisis, is different. School staffing levels, administrative policies, and existing technologies can vary from district to district. The best school safety platform offers customizable features that meet an individual district’s or school’s needs. An effective school alert system allows for tailored emergency response plans and workflows that ensure the best response to each situation.
Schools’ safety needs evolve. A good safety platform should evolve with these needs. Districts and schools grow and shrink; a school alert system must be scalable to adjust to these changes. In addition, new threats may emerge, and a school’s safety technology must be capable of responding.
Consideration 3: Instant, Streamlined Communication
School districts should choose a school safety platform that ensures simple, effective communication during crisis events. Any platform that creates additional steps for staff to overcome during an emergency is not a good fit. Instead, the ideal school alert system includes the following:
- mass notifications
- Audio and visual notifications
- streamlined integration with first responders’ systems
These features ensure that school administrators, teachers, students, and emergency personnel can communicate with each other. Amid an emergency, this multi-party communication is critical. Accurate real-time information can make the difference between life or death during a crisis incident and shorten emergencies’ duration. This benefits not only the victims but also the other students and staff members present.
Consideration 4: Real-time Location and Reporting
School administrators should look for safety technology that enables real-time locating and reporting. When a violent incident occurs on campus, a school’s safety alert system must be able to provide precise alert location information to direct first responders.
An effective school safety platform enables accurate and comprehensive incident reporting. This data is critical in the application process for schools seeking funding for additional security measures. This data also facilitates post-incident analysis, which is critical to future prevention strategies, including drills.
A school safety platform should be able to generate meaningful data to inform districts’ decision-making as it seeks to make schools safer and more prepared in the event of a crisis. Accurate and detailed data also allows schools to adjust their school safety plans to improve these plans’ effectiveness. When the data shows that policies or protocols are working, these can be continued. Conversely, ineffective practices can be discontinued in response to informative data.
Consideration 5: User-friendly Technology
When an individual is in an ongoing crisis, they cannot access their usual cognitive capabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “under intense stress and possible information overload, we tend to miss the nuances of health and safety messages.” For this reason, the right school safety platform makes communicating during a crisis as simple as possible. A school alert system should feature a very low level of complexity. A wearable panic button is the perfect solution; amid an emergency, a staff member merely presses a button to initiate the school’s layers of safety protocols.
School safety technology needs to be user-friendly for first responders as well. The system should let responders know the exact location of the crisis and have the ability to locate safety assets, entrances, and exits.
CENTEGIX Safety Platform™: The Foundation for a Multi-Layered Safety Plan
The CENTEGIX Safety Platform is the foundation for an efficient and effective multi-layered safety plan. The Safety Platform empowers users to prevent, prepare for, and respond to any adverse incident campus-wide.
Visitor management technology is vital to locating individuals who enter and exit a school building. CENTEGIX Visitor Management offers the Enhanced Visitor Management feature. This feature utilizes the CENTEGIX network, Safety Blueprint, and the CrisisAlert wearable badge technology to provide the locations of visitors in real-time. Enhanced Visitor Management delivers:
- real-time visitor locating
- location mapping
- visitor analytics to enable informed decisions on visitor policies, vendor billing, and approved visitor lists
- critical details to assist in the reunification process post-emergency
The CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint provides a user-editable architecture map of all buildings and spaces, overlaid with a map of all safety and security assets such as AED, fire alarms, first aid kits and extinguishers, cameras, and access control technology points. The Safety Blueprint can be edited and updated to evolve with the school’s infrastructure and assets. This tool is helpful to facilities personnel, safety, security planners, and first responders:
- It informs evacuation and reunification planning.
- It informs planning for new construction, temporary building projects, and installation.
- It informs the planning of evacuation routes, security measures, and other elements that affect emergency response.
CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint technology is customizable and scalable. Safety Blueprint’s dynamic, digital mapping allows planners to create and view multiple layers onto a map foundation. Safety, security, IT, and facilities personnel can each access a custom map layer that includes their department’s assets. They can then add, move, and change assets as these elements evolve. Any changes to the core architectural map are reflected on each map layer.
The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert badge is the fastest and easiest way for teachers and staff to get help anywhere on campus immediately. These wearable badges outperform mobile apps; because they are worn, they prevent the problems associated with poor cell reception and Wi-Fi connectivity. CrisisAlert gives staff members instant access to help in any emergency: when an alert is activated, a school’s safety protocols and communication with first responders are immediately initiated.
Every employee can quickly and discreetly request help or initiate a lockdown using their CENTEGIX CrisisAlert wearable badge. Employees are not required to master any new technology with CrisisAlert; the system is designed to be as simple as possible. When CrisisAlert is implemented, a dedicated network of badges, strobes, alert hubs, and gateways is installed to ensure total coverage everywhere on campus. Because CrisisAlert does not rely on a cellular signal or Wi-Fi network to send an alert, staff can rest assured that they will receive assistance no matter where they are on campus.
Using the capabilities of CENTEGIX Visitor Management and Safety Blueprint, Reunification works to reunite students with parents or guardians during and after emergencies on campus. CENTEGIX Reunification solution follows the standard response and reunification protocol of the I Love U Guys Foundation. The multi-layered, integrated elements of the CENTEGIX Safety Platform work together to create safer school environments before, during, and after emergency events in schools.
Equip your school with an advanced, comprehensive, and intuitively designed safety platform. See in action the difference a tailored school safety platform can make. Explore our safety platform or schedule a demo to experience firsthand how our platform can turn your school into a safe and supportive environment for all. Don’t compromise on safety. Act now and give your school community the peace of mind they deserve.