Ensuring optimal communication for school safety
Getting a quality education is a prerequisite for children and young adults to succeed in today’s global market. Students have a right to feel secure in the educational environment, and parents want to ensure their children are guaranteed as much safety as possible. Optimum safety measures include a reliable and rapid response communication system for school and security personnel. In situations such as a fire or medical emergency, a top tier communication system is indispensable.
This system will also be used during the improbable event of a serious safety emergency for lockdown measures to warn personnel, to ensure that sensitive areas within the school are properly secured, and to summon law enforcement authorities and rapid responders.
Known communication problems with both cell phones and many standard model radios include the inability to decisively locate other individual security or educational personnel, along with many other issues that could affect the effectiveness of the security of a school.
Kevin C. McCrewell,Sr.is Supervisor of Security Operations for U.S. Security Associates. His operation regularly serves 35 member districts in Greater Hartford, Connecticut. As Supervisor of Security, McCrewell is familiar with the issues that come from using a sub-par communication system.
Prior to becoming a Hytera customer two years ago, he experimented with the alternatives. Alternatives included cellular phones used for security communication purposes and alternate standard model radio communication systems.
McCrewell learned that both alternatives had significant problems, and knew he needed to find a better option for the member districts his operation serves.
Problems with Alternative Communication Systems:
The failures of both communications alternatives – cellular phones and standard model radio systems – are similar, McCrewell found. Neither a cell phone nor some standard radio models can guarantee the prompt location of other security or administrative staff. With cell phones, McCrewell was frustrated when calls were dropped due to poor signals, and when a call or message went unnoticed or ignored.
McCrewell also noticed that some radio communication systems do not offer easy access direct messaging. Though cell phones can text, if a situation is caused by inclement weather or some other event impacting the general public, cell phones may be unable to establish contact with each other. Furthermore, with many standard two-way radios, it may be difficult for personnel to find a clear channel on which to communicate, and channels may be subject to interference.
These problematic side-effects are also a privacy issue, McCrewell noted. Many messages need to be directed to specific staff members, not accessed by general personnel or the general public. Private messages available to third-parties may easily result in a breach of security or public panic.
Other issues involve simple technical difficulties that can result in big problems.
Something as simple as a dead battery can restrict an entire safety operation by limiting rapid response communication. McCrewell admits to changing the batteries in standard model radios several times during the course of a shift.
Enhanced Communications on Campus with the Hytera PD7
Since switching to Hytera radio communication systems two years ago, McCrewell has been using the PD7 with XPT systems for security operations on campus. The PD7 series is built to DMR standard and contains features for both voice and data communication. The design of PD7 series models is approved to rigorous IP67 and MIL-STD 810 testing. The Hytera patented pseudo-trunking maximizes channel usage. The PD7 series integrates an optional GPS chip that allows the radio to function with Hytera Dispatch System or and other third party GPS dispatch software.
“Since our upgrade to the Hytera product, it has become a lot easier for me to be a supervisor [and] not be a detective,” McCrewell said in an interview.
He notes that prior to switching to the Hytera product, he was constantly asking questions, such as “Where is that person? Who was that who just called on the radio? What was it they just said?”
With the Hytera product, McCrewell is instantly able to receive messages from officers in the field, which ensures the safety of the security officers and the safety of the campus, overall. Administrators are assigned their own programmable channels on the PD7, allowing for quicker, more clear communication. The easy-access menu allows for quick location of another individual by way of the Direct Connect feature. The innovative technology of the system provides for an immediate response, which is critical in the case of a security issue or medical emergency. Additionally, the product allows for immediate, but private, communication in a lockdown situation.
This is an invaluable feature when you must alert a select few individuals promptly while guarding against information leaks.
“By being able to take the call from individuals directly, I can keep the message simple and very secure. It doesn’t go out to the masses for things like if I have a lockdown or I have a medical emergency. Those things…I can keep them quiet. I can make my direct connect. It’s better than a cell phone," McCrewell says.
He is now able to complete an eight- to 11- hour shift without changing the radio batteries. This power-saving capability is not only convenient, it is essential to security personnel. Additionally, McCrewell praises the hardened features and maneuverability of the product. The sleek look and feel of the PD7 offers optimum functionality for supervisors and security personal.
"Hytera is the new standard" compared to previous standard models, he says.
Source from Hytera America