By Celine Macura
Four Years after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many still fear that a similar crisis could threaten their own community. With the shooting claiming the lives of twenty-six students and teachers, the anxiety that their own school systems aren’t prepared enough is understandable.To address these concerns, Nassau County officials decided to install handheld panic alarms in all public schools in 2012. Now, the officials are introducing a new option: an app.
Free to download on smartphones, the Nassau County Safety app will be introduced to a handful of faculty at each public school in the county. Selected faculty will learn how and when to use the app in the case of an emergency. The app would allow these faculty members to quickly and quietly send an alert to assigned police officials if an emergency arose. They would be able to notify police of a fire, active shooter, medical emergency, or other issue.
If the active shooter button is pressed, a 911 phone call would immediately be issued and an alarm would sound in the police department’s Communications Bureau or a 911 call center. These locations then have easy access to the school’s floor plan, location, and surveillance cameras. The center can also lock and unlock the building, giving it control of the situation at hand.
As of now, thirteen school districts are set to go online, and approximately twenty will be connected before the end of September.
The app, created by IntraLogic Solutions, is the only one of its kind including a camera interface, panic alarm, and security control. Its creators claim it is significantly more effective than calling 911 directly because it provides the officials with a real-time vision of what’s going on, allowing officials to have the precise location of an intruder before responders even reach the scene. In a recent interview with Newsday, County Executive Ed Mangano was convinced that the “information will shorten the time in which to make an apprehension or terminate the action.”
Police commissioner Thomas Krumpter is looking forward to introducing the app on a larger scale this November when he meets in San Diego for the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Confident of the app’s potential, Krumpter told Newsday the app would be a “game-changer” in public safety.
The safety app doesn’t stop at school doors; officials plan to also connect the app to other vulnerable sites such as major businesses, shopping malls, and movie theaters with the hope that doing so will prevent terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, these connections won’t be anytime soon, as paperwork and procedure must be properly followed.
New technological innovations are connecting people and institutions to make the community safer. Securing schools from possible threats has been on county officials’ agenda since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012; they’re finally able to see what three years of hard work can do for improving the safety of teachers, students, and county residents.