WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTHI) – School administrators across Daviess County are prepping for a new change to security which will begin in the fall of 2014. This, comes following the Daviess County Commissioners appropriating funds for a new smart phone app that aims to cut down first responder response times in the event of a school security threat.
The app, School Guard, uses a ‘geo tracking’ technology that pings off of smart phone, cell phone towers in a determined area. In this particular case, the cell phone towers in Daviess County. Each educator, and administrator will download the School Guard application, which comes equipped with three settings: “Report School Shooting & Dial 911” “Dial 911” and “Teacher Assist.”
Depending on threat, the educator will press the appropriate button, notifying first responders with in the ‘geo-fence’ radius. Washington Police Officer, Tim Guy, was on hand at Washington High School Thursday to demonstrate.
“This is an active shooter app and a 911 button that all school teachers and staff members can actually get downloaded on their phone,” said Guy.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the average school shooting lasts 12.5 minutes, while the average police response time to an active shooter incident is 18 minutes. According to School Guard’s website, 74 school shooting incidents have taken place since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre on December 14, 2012.
In the majority of those incidents, 911 calls were made to dispatch centers, and dispatchers then relayed the information to area authorities and first responders. Officer Guy explained that in cases like these, seconds can save lives; Daviess County will be the first to implement the School Guard App.
“We are the first ones for the state of Indiana,” said Guy.
Safe Guard utilizes a network of already signed up first responders called the Hero 911 network. This app gives first responders the ability to know when and where a school shooting takes place; it is only available to first responders. This app, similarly, pings safety officials within the geo fence network, anywhere a school utilizes the program.
“It calls 911 and it sends out a signal to all staff members within in the school and for all the law enforcement signed up with the 911 hero network for approximately 20 miles,” said Guy.
Guy explained, for instance, if he were vacationing in Florida, and a school massacre were to take place, his phone would receive the alert. If he chose, he could respond to the incident, show his police credentials, and help at the scene.
The app’s claim is simple: it reduces the time taken from an initial dispatch call, and gives the information right to responding officials. The app uses an audio based alarm, that sounds like a police siren.
In Daviess County:
Police Officer Tim Guy was joined Thursday by Daviess County Commissioner, Tony Wichman, who helped initialize the process of getting the app for the county.
“If it only saves one person’s life, or saves one person from what I call aggressive activity from an outsider, even if it’s not a death, it’s worth the price,” said Wichman. Wichman explained a colleague brought the app to his attention, and found that it could be paid for from the county’s 911 fund.
Wichman stated that a lot of the funds received from the 911 pool are claimed from cell phone tower fees; after talking with state officials, the funds could be used for the School Guard app.
According to publications, School Guard can be installed in a school for a start up fee of $2,500 and $99 monthly service charge.
Assistant Principal Troy Zollars noted that aside from the app’s main school shooting report function, it would be used for its other capabilities. Zollars said that teachers would be able to page himself or the principal to classrooms for unruly or insubordinate students. Still though, he did not discount the fact, of the app’s main use.
“There’s always that chance that it could happen here,” said Zollars. He added the new security measure would also give teachers a piece of mind, and help keep them focused on teaching. “We’re just really excited.”