“Communication is key.” A phrase we are all familiar with— whether coming from a coach on a sports’ team, navigating a relationship, or collaborating with coworkers— communication has always been at the center of problem solving. We know without proper communication, plans, goals, and projects have a heightened potential to fall short. While we are comfortable using this phrase in our everyday lives, there is one area in which communication is often not considered: our technology. Our technology allows us to communicate with each other, but also can be utilized as a great tool of connectivity within itself. Connecting our technology is especially important when it comes to creating functioning safety and risk management plan for schools.
Schools today share a commonality in their communication technology – siloed systems implemented on a project to project basis. As schools upgrade cameras or their access control systems when needs arise, their systems still lack the ability to comprehensively and proactively assess risk and address major issues. The results are communication breakdowns which can lead to even bigger problems. With SARA, the Situational Awareness Response Assistant, schools can be doing much more to streamline and increase efficiency in their risk monitoring and mass notification procedures. SARA integrates a school’s current safety, security, and monitoring systems to increase their ability to exchange and make use of information, otherwise known as interoperability. Rather than allow our safety plans to fall short, we should be aiming for them to reach their full potential via interoperability.
Unlocking a safety plan’s full potential begins with identifying its existing assets. In most schools, this includes security cameras and intercom systems installed at the front doors, that allow the front desk employee to see and speak to an individual before permitting them access to the school. While these systems are undoubtedly important, they tend to be installed as a reaction to a specific event, rather than as a way to improve the overall safety plan. For example, after a break-in at a school, administrators often choose to install a camera system. This is a good start, but, more often than not, the changes stop there and the technology remains a siloed system. However, when interoperable, cameras and other technology systems have the potential to contribute so much more to an overall comprehensive safety solution. When integrated with SARA, it’s possible to send live video feed from the camera system directly to desktop monitors or other devices throughout the school or even to law enforcement. When this happens, those behind the camera can actually take the appropriate actions to either prevent or manage any unwanted events.
Today, most systems in schools, such as the security cameras and intercom systems previously mentioned, can be unified into SARA’s single platform. When these systems communicate with SARA, it ensures that critical data can be collected from all channels, processed, analyzed and delivered to the proper individual(s) who can then appropriately address a situation, whether a minor issue or a crisis. Automation is imperative to this process because it reduces the reliance on people and harnesses the power of technology. In high pressure scenarios an individual’s fine motor skills diminish, often hindering the ability to do something as simple as dialing a phone number. SARA can automatically send real-time, detailed notifications to the right individuals at the right time. In an emergency situation, first responders need to notify the right people, with as much information they can, as soon as possible. Schools that take the initiative to include interoperability in their safety plans, will have the opportunity to reduce response times and ultimately save lives, time, and prevent costly mistakes.
If the right technologies are already implemented in schools, why not take the next step to make them consistently useful in terms of overall school safety, rather than only on occasion?