CDW-G released the findings of its “School Safety Index,” a research project benchmarking the current status of public school district safety. Based on 14 elements of physical and cyber security, the survey of 381 school district IT and security directors highlights the indicators of strong district safety programs, as well as the barriers to school safety. CDW-G’s “School Safety Index” reveals that districts are having greater success with cyber security than physical security. Key findings include: (1) school districts rely too heavily on technical solutions to protect networks and buildings and need to focus more attention on educating students about physical and cyber dangers; (2) tech-savvy students are putting the district network and themselves at risk by sidestepping IT security procedures through measures like proxy servers; (3) districts rely heavily on the telephone to communicate with faculty and parents during emergencies; and (4) a lack of budgeted funds, staff resources, and proper security tools limits districts’ ability to protect themselves.

Cisco Systems and SchoolMessenger, a U.S. parental notification company, announced that more than 50 school districts from coast to coast have adopted their integrated parental notification solution. In addition, SchoolMessenger for Cisco Unified Communications, which was introduced last summer, now includes SMS text messaging to supplement voice and eMail notification to reach a large audience using a range of devices. SchoolMessenger for Cisco Unified Communications is a web-based communications solution that integrates with a district’s existing investment in Cisco Unified Communications, the company said. It is currently in use in 15 states, with the greatest concentrations found in Texas and California.

Iwatsu Voice Networks (IVN), a Dallas-based telecommunications manufacturer, highlighted its suite of applications focused on school and campus safety. These include one-touch outdoor emergency phones, a communications server with E911 features, and the Enhanced Messaging Application, or EMA, a notification service that reportedly broadcasts thousands of voice and text messages in a matter of minutes. Designed exclusively for the education market, EMA can blast tens of thousands of messages and track their delivery with comprehensive reporting features, IVN says.