Reports of violence at schools are making headlines at an alarming rate. With dangerous events erupting on college campuses around the country, more and more parents are evaluating campus safety in addition to academic and sports programs before deciding on which school to entrust their children. It’s an extraordinarily important question that no one was asking 10 years ago, and school administrators are now becoming increasingly committed to providing answers. Their commitment to safety and communications infrastructure made college campuses an ideal environment to confirm the speed and reliability of a new type of emergency alert system.
Right now, several universities nationwide are participating in a pilot program designed to test a new state-of-the-art emergency alert system that will form an integral part of campus safety programs. The system, designed by IntelliGuard Systems, LLC, provides simultaneous emergency notification in less than 20 seconds to a campus population and area law enforcement via dedicated messaging devices. The system is a revolutionary advancement of micro technology that far surpasses the most current wireless technology when it comes to emergency communication. Most universities currently employ third-party hosted alert systems that rely on phone, text and email messaging. These systems are subject to delays, access, network overload, crashing and hacking issues. Operating on a dedicated FCC-licensed network, the advanced messaging technology being tested in this program has overcome these shortfalls to provide a higher level of safety. Notably, the system simplifies a university’s emergency notification process by providing seamless communication and integration between existing alert systems, campus police and local law enforcement.
The technology employed in this immediate notification system and messaging devices is already aiding over one million first responders and other emergency personnel nationwide. IntelliGuard sought to adapt systems designed for hospitals and firehouses to meet the specific needs and challenges of a campus population. While the technology is tried and true, the pilot program was necessary to get real-life input into the system’s application in an environment that is not comprised solely of safety professionals.
At each school, IntelliGuard works with select students, faculty, administrators and campus police to test several components of the system. The RAVENAlert Keychain, which emits a loud audible alert and vibration upon receipt of an emergency message, guides students, faculty and staff out of harm’s way. Scattering across campus, dozens of participants were provided a keychain that weighs less than an ounce and is about two and a quarter inches long. The RAVENAlert Wall Unit, mounted in all classrooms and critical locations, flashes a red light with audible alarm and a backlit text message that gets converted to speech. The third component is digital signage for high-traffic public venues, such as a stadium, library or cafeteria. One of the most important aspects of this technology is that it interconnects with existing third-party systems and provides an “easy button” for dispatchers working in an extremely stressful situation. Third-party hosted systems currently require the dispatcher to go through a series of more complicated steps to finally post an emergency message to various parties. This new technology is activated by a one-touch action that notifies the entire campus population as well as geo-targeted locations in less than 20 seconds.