School safety conference: why districts are adding technology and 911 apps

School districts are increasingly turning to technology for an added layer of protection on their campuses. 

“I don’t know if you can ever say you did enough, you know, especially when you’re talking about student safety,” James McDonald with Boyd ISD said. “It’s a constantly evolving program.” 

McDonald says when his district, which has just more than 1,300 students from kindergarten through 12th grade, updated their school safety measures, several components came to mind. Their buildings have cameras, educators are trained in mental health first aid and they also have a school resource officer. Investing in Share911, he says, was to implement safety communications. 

“Fortunately, we’ve been blessed for only having to use it for our training purposes right now,” he said. “We had an extensive time in the fall training our staff over using Share911.” 

“The simpler you can keep it, that makes it easier for them to adapt and make it become a habit,” he said. 

Share911 is a mobile and desktop-enabled program which allows people inside a school to share information with first responders. They can report whether they need security, if there’s a threat nearby, fire or smoke, medical emergency or other secure options. Districts can tailor alerts to fit their needs, so all campuses use the same language when reporting an incident, CEO Erik Endress said.  

Endress, who serves as a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey and has experience with technology, said he saw the need to form a program like this where response times are minimized.  

“When our system’s activated, not only do they notify their co-workers, they’re also notifying police who also have this on their own phone in the car,” he said.