November News from GG4L

Since our last newsletter we had an official kick-off of our Safer Schools in America webinar series with a focus on Physical Campus Security, Emergency Preparedness and Management and Digital Safety.  In this newsletter we will be focusing on the issues of Physical Campus Security and Emergency Preparedness and Management and what you can do to make improvements at your schools. If you missed our webinars, please check out the links below to view the recorded sessions.  And don’t forget it’s not too late to apply to fund your school safety projects with our On-Demand Grant program.  Apply now for an On-Demand grant.

Webinars:

Physical Campus Security

Emergency Preparedness and Management

Future-Proof District IT-Infrastructure

Click here to read the full newsletter.

EdTech’s Role in Physical Campus Security

The safety of our students and staff is of utmost importance. Not only do schools serve as places of learning but they’re also community gathering places and centers of refuge during times of crisis. Technology providers have developed a number of solutions that replace paper and pencil solutions of the past; these include: keyless entry systems, security cameras, cashless campuses, facial monitoring, picture ID badges that grant access and record movements for students, staff and volunteers, electronic hall passes, single touch emergency badges, etc. Schools are adopting a number of them, but there are challenges.

Providing Campus Security Is a Tall Order

“Schools want to do right by the students, but they only have x number of dollars to spend. They want to find tools and technologies that maximize their impact with the limited dollars they have.” – Pat Bhava, CEO of PikMyKid.

Schools are trying to be more forward-thinking in how they deliver education, but that means students are not just in traditional classrooms. They’re using their buildings in new ways, and students are moving around more. Principals want to know where students are. They’re concerned about hall pass abuse, mischief in bathrooms, vaping, and other safety concerns that schools need to address on a daily basis, including student accountability and creating a safe environment.

Active shooter and violent critical incidents are top of mind. They make the news. But it’s the everyday stuff that happens that presents the greatest challenges, such as power going out, water not working. Many schools have no plan for those emergencies.” – Erik Endress, CEO of Share911

Challenges of Delivering Efficient Campus Security

Before education can happen, students need to feel safe, so campus security is of paramount importance. But on the part of administrators, there also needs to be an acceptance that bad things can happen. There is no exempt community. And there’s more to keeping the campus safe than just putting together a “what-if” plan. Schools are forced to consider how they’ll deal with injuries, what they’ll do if students and teachers are on lockdown for several hours with no access to bathrooms, and how they’ll reunify students with parents once the crisis is over.

Nathan Hammond, CEO at Eduspire, identified three things that are often overlooked in developing stronger campus security:

  • Working more closely with the community
  • Obtaining teacher buy-in to new procedures and ways of doing things
  • Moving beyond institutional thinking and stop repeating procedures that have been in place for 30-40 years

The Role of Technology

While there are many analog resources – audits, checklists, guidelines, reports – they still make school principals and administrators use paper.  What can EdTech do to save time, money, make teachers more efficient and make the school more effective with campus security?

“Technology can really create dynamic safety enhancements and efficiencies. For example, for the last 50 years, schools have used hall passes. By simply converting to a digital hall pass system, the school suddenly has access to a whole new set of data about hall traffic, minutes students are spending outside the classroom. You can see patterns. You can find students when there is an emergency. You can use the data to identify students who may be struggling and need a counselor.” – Nathan Hammond, CEO, Eduspire.

Since Sandy Hook, there has been a total explosion of people trying to keep people safer in schools and workplaces. In just five years, we now have artificial intelligence, facial recognition, license plate readers, and weapons detection. The trick is how to connect everything together so that you don’t have eight different solutions all related to safety but deployed separately. There needs to be a unified platform that a school can use to tie all of the solutions together into a single system.

What Schools Can Do Now to Improve Campus Security at No Cost

  • Talk to your teachers. Hear what they need.
  • Mine existing data. Look for patterns in behavior.
  • Be proactive in the way you think about campus security. Don’t assume it can’t happen at your school.
  • Look at the after-action responses taken by other schools who have experienced incidents and analyze what your school would do in the situation. Identify any weak points.
  • Take full advantage of free resources that are available to help.

One of the biggest challenges that schools face is inadequate funding. How do they pay for the technology they need to make their schools safer? And how do they know the investment they are making is worthwhile? Physical campus security is one of the most important considerations of any principal or school administrator, but meeting the need means overcoming funding issues. Consider applying for a Safer Schools in America on-demand grant. We offer on-demand grants to allow schools to conduct a one-year pilot of an EdTech solution that will help make their school safer.

Challenges Schools Face in Emergency Preparedness and Management

There are a number of challenges that school districts are facing in regard to emergency preparedness and management, but one of the biggest is a lack of resources – whether physical, personnel, or financial. Tactical challenges also present themselves to schools. What needs to happen in the event of an emergency? Schools want to be in the know. Schools want data. They want to know who is in the school building and where they are precisely. Who is in the bathroom? Who is on the playground? How do we equip schools with the information they need to protect everyone?

Some emergencies are unavoidable, but schools really do want to focus on prevention. As mandates are handed down, schools are forced to form threat assessment teams and prepare themselves to stop incidents from happening, which requires more time and resources that districts may or may not have. With an increase of 700% of threats across the board at most schools, having the necessary tools in place is overwhelming.

What Are Districts Missing?

Because academic schedules only allow so much time for drills and preparation, school administrators must spend more time focusing on those emergencies that will most likely impact their schools. They need to also spend more time identifying stakeholders who might be impacted and means of getting parents to play a more active role in the preparation.

Most schools are overlooking the importance of prioritizing the types of emergencies they are most likely to experience and the ones that would be most disruptive, and then running suitable drills. While an active shooter is the most-often discussed danger, there are more common emergencies that happen to schools that require further preparation.

What Role Can Technology Play in Emergency Preparedness and Management?

Technology is playing a huge role in how schools can digitize their plans, to better prepare for and respond to emergencies. For example, when you think just of the critical responsibility placed on the school to reunify parents with students after an event, technology makes the biggest difference. Reunification of students with parents is a complex and painstaking operation, but technology has proven to be a tool that saves time, reduces risk, and puts students back in their parents’ arms more quickly.

Furthermore, as part of your emergency response plan, you need a shared operating picture. Everyone must have access to the same data and be able to see the same things. Data tends to be siloed – in schools, fire departments, and police departments. Getting everyone on the same page is essential for a more effective response. Technology makes that happen, taking what is currently housed in those bulky 3-ring binders that everyone’s response plan is in and making it digital and accessible to everyone. Let’s face it: Everyone is going to grab their phone in an emergency; no one is going to think about grabbing the 30-pound binder off the shelf.

Technology is still new to some schools. They may not have IT departments or even an IT person on site. They may worry about IT infrastructure implementation and management, so when they are looking for appropriate technologies, they need them not only to save money and time, but also to be manageable. By prioritizing what is most likely to impact their schools, they can choose solutions that slowly introduce technology and address emergency management with minimal burden.

That’s where GG4L comes in. School Passport is an enterprise-grade Single Sign-On (SSO) and Identity Management Platform (IDM) delivered for free to member schools as an add-on to GG4L® Connect. School Passport helps school districts securely and cost-effectively distribute third-party EdTech applications and content to students and staff using SSO, IDM, and Identity Federation services.