We respond to emergencies to reduce the loss of property and the loss of life. Natural hazards can claim lives as we saw with Hurricane Katrina (2005) and later for Hurricane Sandy (2012). Human-caused catastrophes such as the attacks in Columbine (1999), Sandy Hook (2012) and Douglas High School (2018) are terribly horrific and the tragic loss of lives, totally preventable.

These events illustrate how schools were particularly at-risk, maybe because they were unprepared in responding to a crisis or had a false sense of security. For whatever reason, there’s one thing that these events have made clear – better planning could mitigate injuries and deaths in an emergency. 

Now that there is an abundance in technology, it is critical to use the very best solutions that it has to offer in order to protect the most vulnerable. In this article, we’ll explore the ways that technology can positively impact school emergency response systems, create safer environments,  and improve communications to avoid loss and damage.

The Internet of Things

The internet of things is an opportunity to improve emergency management even more. When objects can sense and communicate with the environment, they become tools for early detection and understanding incoming threats and vulnerabilities. Additionally, a network of sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects and connected to the internet, can create a vast amount of data that can be analyzed and acted upon.

Mobile Communication

The widespread adoption of mobile devices has enabled the rapid delivery of  critical information to personnel, first responders and at-risk populations. A PEW Research study revealed that 68 percent of mobile users follow breaking news events with their smartphones. These new and innovative response tools can help everyone involved in an emergency to act quickly and effectively in the event and aftermath of an emergency situation.

Prediction and Analysis

With today’s tech, we can better understand how hazards occur. For example, with the storm sensor system in place in the Pacific Rim, we can gain a better understanding of hurricanes, storms and tsunamis and increase our ability to predict and warn affected populations of an incoming natural event.  With increased communication and an ability to predict hazards, it is easier for emergency managers to work with first responders in their own community. It is also easier for emergency managers to work with state emergency management agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Real-Time Monitoring

With mobile’s  enhanced ability to capture and broadcast events quickly, we can follow an event live, as it happens, including how emergency response activities are progressing. For example, during Hurricane Katrina we all saw that there were problems getting supplies to New Orleans. Based on that information, public and nonprofit agencies were able to ramp up their efforts to get supplies to the hurricane victims.

Tech Convergence

When devices, systems and other forms of technology work seamlessly together to achieve a common goal – that is tech convergence in action. This cuts down the time it would take to align on decisions during a crisis – resulting in faster, more coordinated action among teams involved.  

For example, Havrion’s ALERT, an emergency response app,  enables consistent messaging and instructions to help everyone involved from the student body and school personnel to district and DOE administrators and first responders – to respond and navigate safely during a live emergency event. ALERT can be integrated into Havrion’s safety solutions including PROTECT (Automated Sensors) and CONNECT (Digital Display Communications) – all creating a smart environment that protects the most vulnerable. 

Decision Automation

When high-pressure or unexpected events occur, the quickness and effectiveness of our responses can suffer dramatically due to shock and could result in more risk, damage and loss. The huge advantage of tech is in its ability to take out potentially disastrous human responses such as panic, shock and uncertainty by automating decisions and actions in an emergency.A perfect example of decision-automation at work in an emergency is Havrion ALERT’s SRP-enabled mobile application. SRP or Standard Response Protocol– defines not only the event response needed for the emergency occurring but also the action in which a teacher or staff member should take to react to that communication. ALERT displays silent visual commands on the mobile app and digital displays to direct the action of the school population during and emergency as shown below–

Havrion Emergency Protocol

The Bottom-line

A systematic emergency response aided by technology rapidly sets into motion the step-by-step plans, decisions and the best actions to take – dramatically improving the level of preparedness and safety outcomes of any incident.

While we wish that we may never have to confront a terrible crisis and use this knowledge, the sad reality is that disasters sometimes happen. And school environments have become increasingly vulnerable to threats and hazards that we must consider every means necessary to protect lives. Here’s a list of tech tools to help schools prepare and respond correctly to an unexpected event. 

Tech Tools For School Emergency Preparedness and Safety

  • Building/Room Access Control Equipment
  • Building/Campus Interactive Maps
  • Identification Scanning Technology
  • Video Surveillance Equipment
  • Digital/Mobile Notification System
  • Panic and Emergency Alarms
  • Motion, Sound, and Heat Detectors
  • Hand-held and Walk-through Metal Detectors
  • Body Thermal Scanners
  • Interactive Digital Displays

About Havrion ALERT

Havrion ALERT is an end-to-end emergency notification system that makes calling for help easy and fast. ALERT can be immediately activated through physical or digital panic buttons with a direct connection to first responders. ALERT is for use in any school emergency, including, but not limited to, a non-fire evacuation, lockdown or active shooter situation.  

An all-in-one emergency response platform – ALERT allows for direct communication via text, email, voice mail and group calls; interactive information sharing; real-time data during an active event (released once teachers and students are locked-down safely or have evacuated the building);  coordination among designated school staff, School District / DOE employees and 9-1-1 by activating a panic button app to coordinate next steps and provide valuable communications; and integration with Havrion’s CONNECT Solution for immediate and  consistent messaging on digital displays.

Havrion is a technology company dedicated to increasing the safety of schools, buildings and facilities by empowering employees, students, administrators and property managers with the best technology.

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Source: Technology and Emergency Management by John C. Pine www.wiley.com