TECH BYTE: TECH USED TO BEEF UP SCHOOL SECURITY

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MACON, Ga. (WMGT) — School security is a top priority across the country, and technology can make it happen.

The Walker County School District in North Georgia recently enhanced its incident management system at its schools.

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“The Sielox system works on a camera system, so it’s integrated fully with 911, so immediately when we go in to a level three lockdown, they’re notified,” said Superintendent Damon Raines, Walker County Schools. “When we had the drill, we were amazed. It was anywhere from one to three to five seconds before 911 was notified, and they were dispatching law enforcement.”

The upgrades include more security cameras at the schools.

Now, both administrators and Walker’s County 911 Center can access the camera system.

Dispatchers use them if they need to send first responders out to an emergency.

“They’re actually able to guide law enforcement through the building if need be,” said Chris Jones, Director or Facilities and Operations with Walker County Schools.

The school district says this system speeds up response time.

“The quicker we can get to an emergency, the better we’re going to be,” Jones said.

“Now when they come on our building sites, they walk through it just like they would in any situation, so it’s really sped up the time for them to access our building, and to find if there’s a potential intruder in the building, they can get to them quickly,” Raines said.

Superintendent Raines says letting 911 dispatchers have access to these cameras, also helps officers on the scene stay safe.

“This now will give them someone who’s really in their ear, talking to them saying, ‘To the right, to the left, ahead in that corridor, around the corner.’ That’s going to be a huge tactical advantage for them as they enter our buildings,” he said.

The Sielox system even makes it easier for the superintendent and other administrators to put the schools on lockdown.

They can do it from a cell phone, computer, or tablet. They even get text updates.

“Anytime something goes into a serious lockdown, I’m getting a notification, Mr. Jones is getting a notification, and then we begin to get that word out from our incident command,” Raines said.

School administrators say they hope they never have to use this technology in a real emergency, but it’s important to be prepared.

“In this day and time, our number one goal is to have a clean, safe learning environment, and as time goes, and how things are happening in the world today, you want to be as safe as you can,” Jones said.

Jones says right now, visitors can only get into a school from the main entrance. They’d like to eventually add more door access with the key card system.