Higher Education and Technology

Can technology keep us safe?

February 26, 2018
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We have experienced eight school shootings since the beginning of the year. That equates to roughly a shooting a week. Something needs to change.

Research to date shows that “schools are safe places.” According to Sheldon Greenberg, professor in the School of Education and deputy director of the RT&E Center, “Our job is to advance this track record thereby enabling schools to prevent heinous incidents from occurring and reduce and manage fear through the effective use of technology.”

As new technologies emerge in this space, school districts are assessing the needs of their communities and the resources available to them. Some of the tools districts are leveraging to mitigate threats identified in their risk assessments are:

Access controls

With the exception of the main entrance, doors should not be accessible from the outside. Today, technology allows schools the ability to secure their main entrance with a camera, intercom and buzzer-controlled door.

Visitor management systems

A visitor-management system lets administrators know who is in the building, why they are there and if they belong in the school. Eighty percent of schools still use pen and paper to track visitors.

Security cameras

Video surveillance equipment is used at school entrances as a part of a controlled access system as well as throughout campuses to monitor everything from theft to violent behavior.

Panic buttons

There are a number of products on the market that allow teachers to wear a panic button. If trouble arises, they push the button and an alert is sent to the authorities and to school administrators to make everyone aware of a threat in the building.

Mass messaging software

Mass messaging software allows schools to send messages to parents, faculty, staff and students when there is a threat. Messages can be in the form of email, voice or text. Even if you are lucky enough to never have to use this technology during an emergency, it still is a helpful communication tool for sending important reminders or notices to the school community.

The use of these technologies, and others, will help schools detect and deter threats and maintain essential lines of communications in the event of an emergency. Our children are precious and it’s extremely important that we continue to advance the technology that can keep them safe in school.

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