Special thanks to the Ch. 4 News team! Here is some great coverage and an amazing article written by Andrew Reeser.
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (News4Utah) - With the push of a button, Canyon View Elementary school principal Kierstin Draper alerted every teacher and student in the building they needed to lock the doors, turn off the lights and get out of sight.
The message was sent and received in two seconds. The school was locked down and deemed secure in two and a half minutes.
It was a drill, but in a real-life situation, lives could have been spared.
The security application DIR-S (pronounced "duress") acts as a virtual panic button and allows teachers and administrators to alert the entire school in the event of an emergency. Example: a suspicious person enters the building; a student comes to school armed; a domestic dispute spills over into a school classroom. With the app, which costs about $3,100 per school that uses it, the adult who notices suspicious activity can press a button to alert teachers that it's time to lock down their classrooms. Teachers turn off the lights, lock the doors and get students out of sight.
Tresit Group is the Utah company that developed the application, which is now being used in school districts around Utah, Idaho and other states.
"The teacher's job is just to select their location, and [indicate] if they are safe or unsafe," says Tresit marketing director Preston Keller. "If they're safe the room goes green...and if they're unsafe the room goes red." (Teachers press a red or green button on their smartphone or computer to indicate whether or not the classroom is safe).
The alert also goes to local law enforcement. Some police departments around the state have started using DIR-S to better communicate with teachers during emergencies. An instant-messaging feature allows teachers to type messages to each other during an incident, indicating if anyone in their classroom is missing. Missing persons can also be reported on the application.
Canyons School District performs regular drills using DIR-S. It can also be used for fire and earthquake drills. Draper goes around the school and makes sure all classroom doors are locked. A dangerous job in an real-life event, but keeping children safe is paramount. "Seconds count," said Draper. "There's also the ability on the app for teachers to indicate whether they need medical help."
The Canyons School District Board made obtaining this app for local schools a priority project this year. It costs money, but as technology grows, so does the ability for those who would want to do harm to circumvent it. Draper said DIR-S helps schools stay ahead of the curve.
"Knowing that we have to do this to prepare our students, it's definitely a two-sided coin," Draper said. "You wish you didn't have to live in world where you have to prepare for this type of emergency, but...it's a top priority."
DIR-S can also be used on an individual level, but the company's current focus is on schools and corporate environments
Thank you to Channel 4 news for the great story! All credit and content are provided by Channel 4 News.