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Technology's Role in Your Safety Strategy

Illustration depicting various tech safety tactics

According to IHS Markit, the school security market surged to nearly $2.7 billion in 2017. But where do you start when you’re piecing together the tactical elements of a safety program? Despite the abundance of high tech solutions made available, it’s important to understand there isn’t a single all-encompassing answer. It takes a mix of tools and methods—some traditional, some innovative—to protect your community.

Think in Layers to Balance Your Strategy

A comprehensive approach to safety and security can be practical without breaking the bank. As more and more schools strive to create safer environments, one of the best approaches is to think through your safety strategy with an eye on layers while mixing low and high tech safety solutions.

Having multiple layers of security to address potential and active threats is essential. Getting the right mix of tech solutions into your strategy, equally so. Options like anti-violence training, see something, say something messaging, tip lines, and enhanced mental and behavioral health services, are just a sample of the less technical tactics schools across the nation employ.

Many schools aim to provide an open, accessible learning environment with the necessary security provisions. Achieving that balance can be overwhelming. Especially when faced with advanced tech options like facial-recognition cameras, impenetrable doors, panic buttons, and systems that digitize and share building layouts with first responders, to name a few.

Employ High-Tech Solutions to Identify Leakage

A phenomenon known as leakage could also benefit a safety strategy and provide significant insight for predicting violent acts. In a 2000 school violence study, retired FBI agent, Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole defined leakage as when “a [person] intentionally or unintentionally reveals clues to feelings, thoughts, fantasies, attitudes, or intentions that may signal an impending violent act. These clues could take the form of subtle threats, boasts, innuendos, predictions, or ultimatums.” 

Such clues, according to Dr. O’Toole, can be found in writing, drawings, and more. Leakage can also be found openly on public social media feeds. Thus the need for solutions capable of scanning and identifying harmful intent is no longer a nice-to-have option. It’s a must

Devastating incidents like mass shootings are often premeditated and communicated on social media in advance. We see this over and over, most recently with the synagogue murders in Pittsburgh and the bar murders in Thousand Oaks, CA. Having a social media threat awareness solutions establishes a digital safety net intended to generate awareness of situations that could result in tragedies while opening opportunities for help and prevention.

Technology’s role in a safety and security program cannot be overlooked, especially given the volume of people online. Statista reports 77% of us have a social media profile. Yet with all of the options and advancements in available solutions, one of the most effective solutions is free and always available: communication. Focusing on human care and needs, while listening to what people say and providing help, is often the best approach of all.