How social media can help, and not hinder, during a crisis

From a technology perspective, the crisis plan should help identify:

  • What systems are in place and ready to be called upon in a time of need
  • Who can be reached using each type of technology (students, staff, and families)
  • Who among the staff knows how to activate the technology

Schools and campuses often work closely with a public safety department or with local police. However, during a crisis, those law enforcement professionals will likely be more focused on defusing the direct threat than alerting students and staff about the proper next steps. This is often where technology can help.

At a school with thousands of students and staff across multiple buildings, the right technology can significantly shorten the time needed to reach everyone with vital emergency information. Many schools have invested in campus-wide text alerts, cell phone messaging systems, and eMail notification programs. Some have even implemented computer override programs that place emergency pop-up alerts on any classroom computer linked to the school’s network.

These types of alerts should be used only in crisis situations, with short direct instructions on whether to evacuate or stay put.

Put the plan into action through practice

Schools can’t just graft on a security approach and expect it to work. All staff and students must be familiar with the plan. This does not mean simply reviewing a piece of paper, but instead means practicing through testing, drills, and technological troubleshooting.

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