TAMPA, Fla. - When it comes to school security, every second matters -- a point that was emphasized at lest four times Monday during an announcement about Hillsborough County schools' new Crisis Alert security system.
Crisis Alert, developed by Centigex, is designed to immediately identify campus threats, notify the appropriate authorities, and alert those on campus – all at a near-simultaneous speed.
Superintendent Addison Davis calls it “an opportunity to save lives.”
The system puts school safety in the hands of the district's 25,000 employees. Each one carries a keycard equipped with a button.
If they encounter an emergency, they push the button, sending "an immediate indication to law enforcement, fire rescue, or public safety to be able to come to our facilities and truly pinpoint where the issue lies,” Davis said.
Hillsborough County Public Schools head of security John Newman calls the system a “game-changer."
“Some of our campuses are over 40 acres. To be able to pinpoint where the threat is and where the help needs to go is a game-changer in school security,” Newman said.
The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Public School Safety Act requires school districts to have a system that is able to identify, communicate, and mitigate threats to campus security. Chief Newman said Crisis Alert checks all those boxes.
“We have over 25,000 employees. We have just made them a force multiplier to be able to identify a threat,” said Newman.
Once a threat is identified, announcements go out over the campus P.A. system, instructing students and faculty of the appropriate precautions to take.
Color-coded strobe lights flash in hallways, classrooms, and outdoor walkways. Alerts are automatically sent to mobile devises, laptops and other electronic devices. The system alerts public safety agencies, such as fire-rescue or police.
With Crisis Alert, district officials say Hillsborough County is leading the way in campus security.
Superintendent Davis said that should give everyone some peace of mind.
It “allows our teachers to have comfort, allows our students to have comfort and allows our parents to have comfort,” said Davis.