Missing Student (Assistance Needed) - Elementary
Picture this, the bus normally drops the kids off in your neighborhood around 3:15. The bus has already come by to drop off the other kids but your son hasn’t shown up yet. The mother is used to waiting an extra 10 minutes for him to finish talking with his friends and walk back to the house. He usually is home by 3:30 at the latest. She slowly watches 3:30 come and go. She starts calling the homes of the other kids from the bus to see if he stopped by their houses to play, but after calling his best friend’s house she discovered that her son never even got on the bus. This is a real situation that a parent was facing not so long ago.
The mother quickly contacted the school to find out if he had missed the bus or stayed late at the school. As soon as the mother contacted the teacher, the teacher was able to activate the DIR-S alert. Within seconds other teachers were alerted as well as the resource officer and dispatch. Minutes later the student was located and accounted for. Without DIR-S, a response that only took a matter of just a few minutes, could have become a couple of hours; hours which could have allowed the unthinkable to happen.
This mother’s panic was alleviated within minutes and the story has the best kind of ending thanks to DIR-S’s quick response system.
Many people feel that a system like DIR-S is only used in certain cases- in dire circumstances after you have exhausted all other resources available to you. It is crucial to remember that DIR-S is not a last line of defense, it is the first line of defense because it cuts out all of the time wasting elements of typing out emails or texts or dialing individual people on the phone. All of that happens simultaneously so that everyone who needs to be notified receives the alert within seconds.
Fight (Assistance Needed) - High School
Now picture this, you are at the end of a long day of being the head administrator of a large high school. Bullying is a major issue that you are always on the look-out for, trying to put an end to it wherever it arrises. You are walking through the halls and suddenly see a group of boys arguing and it immediately escalates to them throwing fists at each other. You can instantly see that you need to break up the fight as quickly as you can while simultaneously notifying the faculty to reroute other students away from this hallway, clear students who are not involved in the fight from the hallway, notify the school resource officer and de-escalate the situation as quickly as humanly possible. Luckily, you have DIR-S on your phone. With 2 quick swipes you have done all but break up the fight. The student resource officer quickly arrives and is able to break it up and keep everyone posted on the status of the situation in real time.
Educators and school administrators have so much to focus on that adding “break up fights” to their list of to do’s is literally the breaking point for many of them. Having an easy and effective way for them to contact the school resource officer and help protect other students from being harmed is empowering. It adds a level of stability and security that heretofore is unprecedented in how readily accessible it is. Once again DIR-S is the first line of defense quickly addressing the issue and helping those first responders to get where they need to be, all the while allowing others to stay out of harm’s way.
Last school year, a High School was faced with a situation that every educator and police officer hopes to avoid.
Because of gang related activity in the area, a student was bringing a knife to school with malicious intent.
Thankfully the school resource officer received a tip from another student before the perpetrator arrived. He instantly sent a lockout alert through DIR-S.
Within seconds of sending out the alert, all teachers had their rooms locked, and the SRO was able to leave the school and find the student bringing the knife and take care of the matter before he even arrived at the school.
The district office was notified and kept up to date throughout the entire incident because when an alert goes off at a school, it also shows up on the computers and devices of the district officials so that they can easily communicate and monitor the status of the incident.
After the incident had been resolved, all of the communications and records from the incident were retained within DIR-S. This facilitated in the post-incident reports that the SRO and school and district officials are required to do. It also proved very valuable for the school to review to be able to see what they did, and identify ways to improve in the future to make their emergency response even more timely and effective.
In another school, in a different incident, there was a city-wide power outage. This caused all of the lights and computers and other communication systems to go down in the schools located in this city. Thankfully, the teachers had DIR-S on their mobile phones, and it continued running without missing a beat on their cellular data.
School and district officials were able to communicate with all of their faculty throughout the entire time that the city power was down all using DIR-S.
This allowed them to keep everything organized and ensure that all students and faculty were safe and secure while they waited for the outage to be fixed.
While these two stories showed different schools in very different situations, they were both able to use DIR-S to maintain active communications through the duration of the incident.
Schools find themselves faced with such a wide variety of situations, and they need a system of responding to all circumstances, not just the drastic, life threatening ones.
Since the initial development stages, DIR-S has been intended to fit the needs of large and small scale situations.
When a teacher, officer, or school/district administrator enters DIR-S to send out an alert, it brings up a list of categories showing the alert category presets determined by their district or state. Generally, there will be options of Lockout, Shelter in Place, Lockdown, Evacuate, and Assistance Needed.
From there, they are prompted to a different screen where they indicate whether they are “safe” or “unsafe.”
From there they are to indicate their location. All teachers will have default locations saved that they can click to confirm, or if they are in a different place than usual, they open up the digital map of the school and select their current location.
In just these two quick steps, first responders and district officials are able to see who needs help, and exactly where they are.
From there, they are directed to a chat page where everyone involved in the incident is able to have active communication. They can also navigate to the map where they can see the status of the other rooms in the building
There is also a tab entirely dedicated to the event that there might be a missing person. On this page teachers, officials, and responders can see what students are not accounted for, and when they find them, they can report them as “found” on that page. It will then say who found them, and at what time they were found.
All of this is saved in DIR-S, and can be revisited after everything has been resolved.
DIR-S has been developed and updated with the sole objective of keeping its facilities safe and well connected. We meet regularly with our clients to review how DIR-S can best meet their individual circumstances. Every facility we have outfitted with DIR-S that has taken it seriously and familiarized themselves with it, has felt like the above-mentioned schools; they've been glad they had it when it mattered most.
In a recent article published in the “Expert Commentary” section of securityinformed.com, titled, Importance of Establishing Security Standards for K12 Schools, Mark Williams explains some of the difficulties schools face in implementing and carrying out proper security procedures. In the article he says, “School administrators are experts in running schools and providing education. However, most are not security experts and do not understand the complexity of implementing a comprehensive physical security program across their districts. Still, they are often contacted repeatedly by organizations with multiple safety and security products.”
This is why we recommend five key steps in developing and integrating security programs and plans in the schools and other locations we work with.
Steps 1-4 of this list are generally not as much of an issue for schools. The main issue schools need to tie all of their other security investments together is clear communication among everyone involved. This becomes especially important when you think about the different types of emergency situations a school is liable to be facing.
In a fire, there will be entirely different emergency procedures than what one would do in a lock out, a shelter in place, or a lock out situation. Every kind of situation requires entirely different kinds of emergency protocols, but the thing that all of them need is clear and effective communication.
Since its implementation, DIR-S is used in real situations on a very regular basis. Just over a year ago, there was a Subway Restaurant next to an elementary school that had an armed intruder.
The local police used DIR-S to send out a “Lock Out” alert to the elementary school, and within seconds all of the teachers were notified, and the exterior doors were locked down. As far as goings on in the classroom, teachers were able to continue teaching while still receiving real time updates as to the situation and what they should do with their students, and the students were able to continue learning without any interruption.
When this alert went off, the district safety officer was boarding a cruise ship on his vacation, and he received the alert on his smart watch. He was able to communicate and keep up with the entire alert process from his cell phone. He and the principal were able to see the same map and communicate with local police all from their own locations while the school was in lock out mode.
Without this quick, clear, and effective line of communication provided by DIR-S, this situation would have been much more complicated to communicate to the different entities involved. It also would have taken much longer to get the school in lock out mode without possibly causing a panic. In real life emergency situations, time is everything.
As Mr. Williams says in his previously mentioned article, “It’s not just having the right protection equipment in the building; it’s also having a procedural layer in place to make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in the event of a fire. The stress of the actual event can limit ones’ ability to think clearly. Practice makes perfect. Why would we approach school security any differently?”
This elementary school takes their school’s security seriously, and they drill often and effectively with DIR-S. They were well prepared for the situation, and everyone involved knew exactly what to do. They were able to handle the situation with clear end effective communication, and the situation was handled without harm to anyone or any kind of panic within the school.
To refer back to Mr. Williams’ article, schools can spend all they want on security hardware. That is all great, but it is imperative that they have well established and thoroughly drilled procedures for what to do in emergency situations. All of the amazing hardware will be next to useless if teachers, administrators, and responders do not have a clear and effective way to communicate with one another throughout the ordeal. This is where DIR-S comes in. DIR-S allows everyone involved to coordinate their efforts in the most effective way possible to handle any situation they might be facing.
Software companies like ours have a very large task at hand. It is not merely enough to keep up with what the rest of the industry is doing at the time. If that is all a tech company does, they will never stand a chance of leading or even standing out in their industry.
In Ryan W. Neal’s Investment News article, he explains what Scott Klososky calls “High Beam Thinking.” This phrase was penned by Scott Klososky. He works a lot with different tech companies, and he talks about what it takes to not just survive but thrive. “High Beam Thinking,” is all about using your current knowledge of the industry and predicting where it will be months and years down the road. He talks about how important it is to evaluate where current business practices and products will take your company in the near and distant future.
According to Mr. Klososky, this kind of thinking puts business people into the kind of mindset that helps them keep their company on the cutting edge of their industry, rather than having them always playing catch up with the rest of the industry.
Software development is a vast industry, and people enter it on a daily basis with high hopes of making their idea into a huge business success. Many of them legitimately have exciting ideas that can make a serious mark for them in the industry. The thing is though, if you are coming with an improvement on something that already exists, you will be fighting to make your product really stand out against what is already in place.
If you have an entirely new idea, if it is a success, competitors will be coming out of the woodwork to steal your market.
This sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it?
While it is incredibly competitive, it is also very exciting and rewarding to take an idea and put it into production. This applies to basically every industry, from restaurants to construction, to software companies like ours. Competition is an integral part of doing business. There are a lot of different practices, and a nearly endless supply of books, pamphlets, TED talks, podcasts, etc. of people explaining how to “make it big.” While it takes a lot of different practices and a lot of work for companies to get from an idea to a money-making business, merely making an initial dollar is not good enough. Especially in the software world, stagnation leads to failure.
This is where this “High Beam Thinking” comes in so important. This means keeping your thinking on a level above and beyond where the rest of the industry is at. You are observing your competitors, interactive effectively with your clients, and continually updating and improving your products.
DIR-S has come a long way since its initial release.
We meet together with our software developing team regularly, and this week we have been with them even more than usual. We are taking advantage of this time in the summer while schools are on break to do exactly as Mr. Klososky recommends. No matter where we are or what decisions we are making in the company, where those decisions will take us is always at the forefront of the decision-making process.
This is also the kind of thinking that we try to pass on to our clients when we are either showing them the power of DIR-S or implementing it in their facility. While DIR-S can be an enormous help to any school or business, it is necessary to look into the future.
DIR-S is not just about setting up the program and forgetting about it. It is about looking to the future, keeping up with software updates, and anticipating future emergency situations.
For an example of how we are currently implementing this “high beam thinking,” we are in the process of implementing a mapping system in the DIR-S program, along with revamping the communication platform of the DIR-S program. We know that these new advancements we are introducing will open up worlds of opportunities for us, and for DIR-S. It is for this reason that we meet together with administration and with our software team regularly to get plenty of perspectives as to what we need to do to prepare us and the program for the future, and how to direct our efforts now to best prepare for what is to come.
We are incredibly proud of DIR-S, and we are constantly working to make it as amazing as it can possibly be. With every step we take in moving it further into the future, we make sure to look at where our new innovations will take us.
To get to where we are, we at Tresit Group have been the kind of thinkers that Mr. Klososky would call “high beam thinkers.” We have looked forward at every step of the process to predict where it will take us. This is a practice that we do every day, and we will always be doing it because that is how we are able to ensure that DIR-S is and will always be the best emergency communication security software available.