How K12 Schools and Districts Are Leveraging Emergency Notification Systems


Protecting Students and Staff

No one wants to be the guinea pig when it comes to new technology. If your organization is going to invest in a new tool, you want to know that it works. The best way to do that is to see how others are using it. In K12 schools, safety is a top priority, so school leaders need to be sure that the safety tools they invest in are going to work when it matters most.

Schools and districts around the country are leveraging emergency notification systems to help enhance school safety, improve communication and provide a secure learning environment for students and staff. In this blog post we’ve compiled stories from K12 schools and districts to provide first hand accounts of how emergency notification systems are changing the ways they share critical information that keeps people safe.

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Scheduling School Bells

In a school or district, it can help to have smaller initiatives set up properly to provide a good base to build up to larger undertakings. For some schools and districts this means managing the headache of school bell schedules. Take for example, Necedah Area School District in Wisconsin, which has its elementary, middle and high schools all residing in the same building. The district needed a better way to reach students and staff, but was facing issues with its outdated analog paging system. Using Advanced Network Devices and InformaCast, the district installed IP speakers throughout the building to provide clear audio and scrolling announcements. It could also configure zones for each school and schedule corresponding bell schedules.

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School Lockdowns and 911 Alerting

When an intruder is on or near school grounds, school leaders often initiate a lockdown. Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District in Wisconsin use InformaCast and Cisco phones to lockdown schools quickly. With InformaCast, any staff member can place the school on lockdown by dialing a designated extension on his or her Cisco phone. This triggers the doors in the school to close and lock immediately and sends an alert to all classroom phones.

If an emergency does occur on school grounds, a quick response is dependent on people knowing the emergency took place. InformaCast monitors for calls made from a district phone to an emergency number like 911. When the number is dialed, the system sends an automatic alert to the on-site police liaison officer and other important staff members. The alert includes a recording of the call, the time the call was placed, and the location of the phone that was used to place the call.

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Prerecord Emergency Messages and Overhead Paging

The unfortunate reality is that for many emergency situations, schools and districts need to plan for “when” not “if.” At Latin School of Chicago, that means using InformaCast to prerecord emergency messages that can be deployed at the push of a button. Text and audio notifications are sent to all of the school’s Cisco phones and audio is broadcast to overhead speakers in the school’s multiple buildings. Administrators also receive automatic e-mail notifications whenever an emergency message goes out, which helps them respond faster.

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Severe Weather and Natural Disaster Alerts

Mother Nature can wreak havoc on a school schedule and has the potential to cause harm to students and staff. Being able to tell a school community how weather will impact the school day reduces confusion and facilitates whatever response may be needed. Redland Unified School District (RUSD) in California is prone to experiencing natural disasters. In addition to more routine weather events, each year it participates in a state-wide emergency preparedness activity called the Great California Shakeout. As part of this activity, RUSD sets up a pre-recorded message to broadcast an alert across phones and speakers. Students who participate learn to recognize InformaCast alerts as a source of important safety information in the event of an emergency.

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Integrate with Existing Systems

As mentioned in the examples above, and as is the case in other schools and districts using InformaCast, an emergency notification system that can connect with technology a school already has in place offers a tremendous value. The value comes in cost savings, since schools and districts need to invest in fewer pieces of technology, but also in the ability to reach more people. For any organization, speed and reach are the two most important aspects of any communication system. Being able to get a message out quickly to everyone can mean the difference the between safety and harm. InformaCast can connect to IP speakers, digital signage, panic buttons, Cisco IP phones, desktop computers and mobile devices to share critical information.

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Everyday Use

One common thread among these schools and districts is that they incorporate their emergency notification system into everyday use. Finding daily applications helps ensure the system is working the way they expect it to when they need it most. Regular use lets schools know their system is connecting to devices it wants to receive messages, and that groups and zones are set up correctly.

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These are just some of the ways schools are leveraging emergency notification tools to help enhance school safety communication. Visit our K12 page to learn more and contact us if you’re interested in speaking with someone about how InformaCast can be used in your school or district.




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