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School Alert Systems: Critical Features


In order to provide high-quality education, school staff members must feel secure enough to devote all their energies to teaching. Administrators can nurture this sense of security by investing in school alert systems that allow staff to call for help anytime, from anywhere on campus. A reliable and effective school alert system connects school staff to law enforcement and first responders in emergencies. 

School administrations develop the safety protocols appropriate for their individual districts and schools. These protocols, in combination with school alert systems that include mobile panic alert buttons, make schools safer. Reliable school alert systems and effective training in safety protocols create a culture of safety in schools. This culture fosters quality teaching and learning and demonstrates administrators’ commitment to staff and student safety.

Help in every situation

As every educator knows, school days are unpredictable. Recent increases in violence on school campuses exacerbate the need for adequate school alert systems. In a poll by the American Psychological Association, school psychologists (18%), school administrators (15%), and other school staff (22%) reported at least one violent incident by a student in 2021. As of September 2023, 188 shootings with casualties occurred at public and private elementary schools. But these are not the only types of emergencies that occur in schools. Other examples include:

  • extreme weather incidents
  • student elopement
  • medical emergencies
  • behavioral incidents and altercations between students

In any of these instances, teachers and staff should be able to call for and receive assistance immediately. Effective school alert systems allow administrators to enact safety protocols immediately following an alert. They also foster instant communication between school staff and emergency responders. In an emergency, this communication can save lives.

School alert systems defined

The central function of a school alert system is to ensure that everyone on campus is connected and easily able to communicate with emergency responders. On a campus with a school alert system, teachers, staff, and administrators can all initiate emergency alerts and set safety protocols in motion. Because many incidents in school are time-sensitive, an effective school alert system must enable instant alerts. 

How school safety systems fall short

Outmoded systems include:

  • landline phones
  • two-way radios
  • intercoms 

Wall-mounted intercom systems and two-way radios are common school security measures. Intercom systems often require a staff member to leave the scene of an emergency to summon assistance. This action can cost precious seconds and may negatively impact the outcome of an emergency. 

Two-way radios can be bulky and indiscreet; detailing a behavioral altercation aloud may escalate it. While radios can be an effective means of communication during the daily life of a school, they are ineffective as a single point of contact in an emergency.  Schools need technology that makes it simple for every staff member to ask for help in every situation, every time. 

These outmoded safety measures allow too much room for error in emergencies. Current technology has evolved to include digital solutions, including AI-assisted software systems, IoT, and remote cloud-based systems. School safety technology, in other words, has evolved beyond the walkie-talkie.

The pitfalls of mobile apps

Digital apps are one current technology school districts adopt to keep their school communities safe. However, digital apps lack the functionality that enables staff to alert others instantly in every emergency. Several factors prevent mobile apps from being the right system to foster safety in schools:

  • Personal cell phones are not always accessible. When a staff member’s phone is in their desk, car, or purse, it is useless in an emergency. And when teachers are engaging with students, their priority should not be keeping track of their phones. 
  • Perfect execution of mobile apps is difficult in an emergency. In a moment of crisis, it is often difficult to enter a swipe code and follow the steps required by an app. 
  • Mobile apps rely on WiFi or cell coverage, which are often unreliable on school campuses. A lack of connectivity renders a mobile app useless.
  • Mobile phone GPS does not provide specific enough location information. Emergency responders may not immediately know what room to report to when they arrive on campus.
  • Many mobile apps have a low adoption rate. It can be a heavy lift for staff members to adopt and learn new technologies amid their many responsibilities.

School alert systems that work

The best school alert systems take a holistic approach to school safety. They create a culture of safety by providing a way to initiate an alert in any type of emergency. When teachers and staff have access to a reliable alert system, they know they are not alone in confronting any crisis that emerges. 

Truly effective school alert systems have the following features:

  • Flexibility: the system enables responses to any incident on school property.
  • Accessibility: the system works for anyone from anywhere on campus.
  • Ease of use: the system ensures that alerts can be initiated quickly and easily.
  • Location precision: the system can communicate incidents' precise (room-level) location to emergency responders.
  • Connectivity: the system ensures that everyone on campus has the information they need to stay safe throughout an emergency. 

When a school alert system has these features, any staff member can easily initiate school safety plans in any situation. 

Emergency alert badges facilitate safety

As every educator knows, school days can be hectic and unpredictable. When a safety issue arises, staff members need immediate access to an alert system that they know will summon assistance. School alert systems with remote panic buttons make this possible; teachers merely push a button on the panic button worn with their ID badge. Instead of fumbling with an app on their cell phone, staff members press their panic button, and safety protocols immediately go into effect. This access to support in an emergency empowers teachers and creates a culture of safety in schools.

Advantages of mobile panic alert systems

Every school has unique needs. The ideal school alert system is customizable and can be installed with minimum disruption. Safety requirements differ across school districts, states, and the federal level. A school alert system should be able to work in tandem with existing technologies. Technology integration is a must. School administrators are looking for systems that are easy to install, user-friendly for staff, and proven to improve school safety. Remote panic alert systems meet all of these requirements.

A unique advantage of mobile panic alert systems is facility-wide coverage. Staff members can initiate alerts from anywhere on campus, instantly communicating to administrators and emergency responders if necessary. School alert systems that include strobe lights, mobile alerts, and screen takeovers ensure that every staff member in every location has essential information about emergencies. Easy integration into a school’s existing technologies facilitates reliable communication throughout campus. A single alert can initiate a schoolwide lockdown or other safety protocols that protect staff and students. 

Every school staff member deserves to feel safe on campus; when they do, their mental energy can be spent on teaching. Administrative teams can create this culture of safety by investing in mobile panic alert technology. By ensuring that any staff member can call for immediate assistance in any emergency, school leaders can fulfill a central part of their mission: to keep kids and teachers safe on campus.

What is a good school alert safety system? What does an effective school alert system need to include? Can old systems work with new technology for school safety? Are two-way radios a good safety system for schools? Are there mobile apps that are effective for school alert systems? Technology, Education, What do I need to make sure a school has for the best safety of my child?


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