US Campus Safety: Schools use technology to protect students
For students in the United States, this is back-to-school season. For many school districts, that their focus once again is on security. More and more schools are using technology to try to keep kids safe. CGTN's Hendrik Sybrandy reports.
After an all-too-brief summer vacation, class is in session once more at Jefferson County Public Schools in Colorado.
JOHN McDONALD SAFETY DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS "We are. 86,000 kids are back and 14,000 employees."
John McDonald is in charge of security for the district, a job that directly impacts the well-being of students and their education.
JOHN McDONALD SAFETY DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS "Kids that feel safe in a school environment are better learners. They have higher test scores, better graduation rates."
As school shootings and deaths resulting from them have climbed in recent years in the U.S, school safety has become a bigger priority than ever. This week, these school employees, who are often in close proximity to students, learned how to stop an injury from bleeding in the event of an attack.
JAMES O'TREMBA PRINCIPAL, NEWTON MIDDLE SCHOOL "It's not the most pleasant way to start the school year with staff but we feel it gets them very ready in case of any type of emergency that will happen."
HENDRIK SYBRANDY DENVER "Not surprisingly in this day and age, technology is assuming a bigger role in school security. Surveillance cameras can now spot active shooters, not just vandals. A mass notification system which can instantly spread word of a threat and a school lockdown is about to be installed at McDonald's schools."
JOHN McDONALD SAFETY DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS "Across every computer, every telephone, across every digital sign and every T.V. in the school."
Smartphones may soon have a larger role to play.
BRETT TITUS CO-FOUNDER, LIFESPOT TECHNOLOGY "We are speeding up response time anywhere from 20-30 seconds."
Brett Titus, who's an active police officer, touts his LifeSpot Technology phone app which allows school personnel to notify authorities about a threat immediately. Its communications features, he argues, could be a life-saver.
BRETT TITUS CO-FOUNDER, LIFESPOT TECHNOLOGY "They hit a button and a swipe. That first phone goes directly to 911. It also sends an alert to the nearest law enforcement."
This shooter detection system features sensors which pick up the acoustic signature of a gunshot and then notify emergency responders. There are even bullet-proof backpacks. This model, made by a company called Guard Dog Security, costs several hundred dollars.
YASIR SHEIKH GUARD DOG SECURITY "It's kind of like having a home security system. Today the odds of your home being broken into are, depending on your area, pretty slim but people decide to take a proactive measure to protect themselves and their loved ones."
McDonald is wary about many of these types of products. He says he averages 20 calls from school security vendors each week.
JOHN McDONALD SAFETY DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS "They are constant, they're relentless."
The 1999 Columbine High School tragedy forced many school districts to rethink their security. It remains an ever-evolving field, McDonald says, in which technology plays only a part.
JOHN McDONALD SAFETY DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS "I've never seen a simple solution to a complex problem. I want a relevant product that works."
And could save lives when precious seconds count. Hendrik Sybrandy, CGTN, Denver.