Impero Software’s keyword library addresses online safety concerns

June 28th, 2016

online safety

New terms will help schools flag potential instances of bullying, abuse, self-harm or radicalization

It makes the headlines often: A young man or woman in the U.S. ends his or her own life due to bullying or becomes radicalized and attempts to join ISIS or other hate groups. In both instances, adults in these youth’s lives are often left wondering what they could have done to intervene.

In an effort to protect students in this always-on and connected world, Impero Software, a remote monitoring and management software provider, has updated its keyword libraries to include a more comprehensive list of U.S. specific terms related to bullying, self-harm, radicalization and more, in order to alert educators so they can help students before a tragedy occurs. Impero will showcase the updated library in their booth #708 during the 2016 ISTE conference June 26-29, 2016 in Denver.

The updated library, combined with Impero Education Pro software, gives educators an edge on internet safety by helping them monitor and analyze student activity on school devices. The software alerts educators when a student uses words or phrases that match a term in the keyword library.

“Students rarely tell adults that they want to join a gang or a terrorist group. They don’t brag about being suicidal or anorexic, or abused. They talk in code, especially when they are discussing something that is dangerous to themselves or others,” said Sam Pemberton, CEO of Impero Software. “We are already partnered with many respected charities worldwide, including some of the top organizations in the nation such as iKeepSafe, Hey U.G.L.Y and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders in order to crack this ‘code,’ and help educators stop potential problems before they start. This keyword library is a much needed resource for our U.S. customers.”

Impero’s keyword library includes terms such as “gkys” which is text-speak for “go kill yourself;” “biscuit” which is a term to define a gun, “thinspiration,” a term often used by people with eating disorders, and “Yodo,” an acronym for “you only die once,” an extremist phrase used to promote suicide bombings and recruitment to violent extremist groups. The software also allows for adding new keywords or phrases so that educators can incorporate such things as neighborhood-specific gang references or student nicknames. Students can also use the software to anonymously report concerns about themselves or others to trusted, trained adults.

Impero Education Pro works on all school devices using algorithms to detect when a student uses certain keywords or phrases. The system will alert those responsible for “safeguarding” issues within the school such as counselors and capture a screen shot or short video to provide context. This enables those alerted to analyze the activity and determine if it is a true threat or if there is another explanation (such as suicide research for a class assignment on Romeo and Juliet).

Educators can also use Impero Education Pro to block students from accessing the Internet or certain web sites and view screenshots and timelines of student activity. Administrators can create reports and export data on student or class activity, or on trending phrases.

“Before Franklin County Public Schools implemented Impero Education Pro, we had many instances of students searching for inappropriate terms, improper use of email, and questionable student online behavior,” said Jimmy Pack, Chief Information Officer for Franklin County Public Schools in Franklin, Ky. “Today the number of incidents reported has dropped dramatically and there’s been a noticeable shift in the way students conduct themselves online. Keyword monitoring is just one important piece of what makes Impero such a wonderful tool for our schools.”

The updated library of U.S. keywords, including the radicalization terms, is free for existing Impero customers and will come standard for new customers.

Impero also offers classroom management tools that teachers can use to share their screens, send and share files with students, take over or lock students’ computers, create exams, assign tasks, send messages to students, or mute the sound to draw students’ attention back to the teacher. Schools can also use Impero Software for administrative tasks such as controlling passwords or setting computers to power on or off at certain times.

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Material from a press release was used in this report.