The following story is a based on a real occurrence in New Jersey. For the safety and security of the schools involved, the names of the Districts have been changed.

An unfortunate reality that exists today is the safety and security of our schools. For multiple reasons, the lockdown of buildings is an important step in denying an assailant access to any students, staff, or employees. Not only have active shooter and mass casualty events become all too prevalent, they are something that need to be carefully planned and evaluated for effectiveness, far ahead of time.

While a there is a myriad of technology in existence that’s deployable, such as weapons detection cameras and facial recognition technology, we will hold off on that technology discussion for another time. For now, let’s focus on specific event-based technology that helps manage these events now, in a manner that is congruent with current FBI best practices. In their latest report, when a threat is perceived, or one is predicted, denying the shooter access to any targets saves lives. This directly translates to an immediate and efficient lockdown event, triggered as early as possible.

In the late Fall of 2019, a shooting took place in a metropolitan Northern NJ city that was in the vicinity of two K-12 schools that prompted police to immediately initiate a lockdown condition in the two districts. One district had a manual ‘phone tree’ alerting policy in place, with another utilizing a new ‘connected building’ focused solution that could be remotely managed by the Police Dispatcher. When comparing the timelines for these events, a dramatic increase in efficiency was clearly visible with the Modernville connected-building. The 18.5 minute Delay in the total lockdown of the Legacy City BoE buildings is certainly indicative of how a more efficient solution will ultimately save lives.

Legacyville City BoE

Start    End     Description

0:00    1:50    Hearing the radio call of the shooting event, the Legacy City police chief calls the Legacy City School Superintendent and requests all Legacy City BoE schools initiate an immediate lockdown until further notice.

1:51    2:59    The Legacy City School Superintendent instructs her facilities manager to immediately initiate an ‘all schools’ lockdown

3:00    17:40  The Legacy City Facilities Manager and staff begin calling the principals of each  Legacy City school (18 in total) advising them to initiate a lockdown.

            17:40  The last Legacy City principal is reached

            19:20  The last Legacy City school is confirmed in lockdown


Modernville BoE

Start    End     Description

0:00    0:50    Hearing the radio call about the shooting event, the Modernville Police Dispatch initiates a remote lockdown of the entire Modernville school district schools



It is common practice today to protect our schools and public buildings through legislation such as Kari’s Law, requiring the direct dial of 911 from telephone devices and the on-site reporting of the emergency call to staff, and the RAY BAUM’S Act requiring a dispatchable location be sent to public safety in an emergency. Alyssa’s Law is also now in effect in Florida and New Jersey, requiring mobile ‘panic buttons’ specifically in schools that can provide the critical situational awareness direct to public safety in the event of an emergency situation.

These new legal requirements are forcing IT staff to work with internal public safety departments, facilities management teams, and local public safety law-enforcement agencies to develop an overall action plan that is quickly and easily put in place to manage these critical life-safety situations.

At 911inform, not only do we cater to telephone call triggers of emergency events, but we realize that those triggers can come from nearly anywhere, or anything, with the evolution of IoT devices everywhere. From simple push buttons on walls, to specialized dial access codes for specific event types, to automatic detection systems like infrared cameras monitoring body temperatures for potential COVID-19 targets, to advanced weapons recognition and detection solutions based on video images, and acoustic impact warning sensors (commonly referred to as shot spotters); all of this information is being made available to the enterprise cloud ecosystem. This results in a perfect target for an AI engine to harvest this information, correlate it with other relevant additional data points and then, based on empirically influenced response models, suggest the most appropriate course of action to a human or other process, but all based by actual data.

As more data points are collected in an environment, the more precise the calculations and predictions will become; but let me be clear about something. We are not talking about autonomous artificial intelligence taking control of a situation without human intervention. What is being developed, is an artificial intelligence that uses suggestive reasoning based on a mathematical calculation of statistical data presented to an individual for validation and execution in the form of a digital assistant. Just as tax accountants use calculators and computers, the AI and sensor data points become assistive tools, since the human mind can’t think, process, and react fast enough. That doesn’t mean it is not in control, it means that the human factor is a final and necessary checkpoint before an action is executed.

I welcome your comments, suggestions, or queries.

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Check out my Blogs on: Fletch.TV

© 2020, All Rights Reserved, Mark J. Fletcher, ENP
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