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Weekly Trend: As Schools Start Up for Fall, Smarter Lockdowns May Keep Classrooms Safe

In the last few years, school shootings have become an unfortunate and unwelcome reality in the U.S. In an effort to protect students and teachers in the future, startups are creating new technology to better protect the classroom.

ELERTS, a Massachusetts-based group, has designed an app that enables teachers to use technology to protect their students when they sense a dangerous situation.

“Alerting people of potential danger and informing them with real-time updates will help their decision making during the crucial moments of a violent situation, which in turn will help to increase their chance of survival,” an ELERTS press release said.

ELERT’s app is called “Lock it Down” and was created in partnership with the ALICE Training Institute, whose “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate” model has been used in schools across the country.

The app allows teachers to immediately lockdown a school or prevent key card access by simply pressing a button on their smartphone. It also allows them to communicate with other faculty in the building, as well as law enforcement.

DefenCall is another startup getting involved in making schools safer. The startup created a “mobile panic button” that connects teachers and staff with local law enforcement.

“Activating the button immediately dials the local emergency number and sends a text message to a list of pre-defined contacts which can be configured to include school administrators, district administrators and resource officers,” Defencall’s website says.  “The alert message includes the name of the person who is requesting help, their phone number and their actual location as determined by GPS.”

The average active shooter rampage lasts 12 minutes, according to a study cited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And while these startups recognize that they can’t prevent a school shooting from occurring, they do think that they can help to better protect students, teachers and staff in the critical gap before law enforcement arrives.

“It’s a matter of reducing risk,” Frank Griffith, the ALICE Training Institute’s executive vice president,  said.

Katie Thompson

Katie is the editor of Shared Justice, an online journal for millennials published by the Center for Public Justice. A proud native of New Jersey, she now resides in Washington,…