Reducing school emergency response times with X-ray vision

How does Active RFID (RTLS) work in schools?

Real-time location systems can “see” through wall and communicate location information to personnel and third parties, such as police dispatchers, over the web. Active RFID (RTLS) badges or tags with associated names can be stored securely on file, providing first responders with the identity of the person requesting help (e.g., M. Johnson, Teacher), as well as their location (e.g., Classroom #32, Longwood Elementary)—eliminating the need for school personnel to direct the police to them.

Ekahau’s RTLS badge with an LED display of teacher locations and emergency incidents.

How it works:

  • Upon entering the premises, teachers and staff are asked to wear or carry active RFID (RTLS) tags or badges, which operate over a network consisting of either dedicated cabling/readers or an existing Wi-Fi network.
  • Optionally, badges are associated with user identities and other information.
  • If a user pushes a badge button or pulls down on a badge during an emergency, those in proximity are programmed to receive not only the help request but also the user’s location—e.g., “Mrs. Johnson, 4thGrd, Rover HS, Room 3, Code Red.”
  • RTLS badges read room-level locations, and RTLS software superimposes location coordinates onto real-time maps, indicating “Library,” “Classroom #3,” “Staff Lounge #1,” and “Gym” as examples.
  • If a school guest leaves a pre-determined area set up in RTLS software, the RTLS tag or badge can alert designated security teams monitoring these restricted zones automatically via eMail or other communication.
Image shows Ekahau’s RTLS software interface screen, indicating a room emergency alert displayed on a real-time floor plan accessed via a web browser.

In a world where greater visibility can minimize emergency response times, active RFID technology in the form of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) can complement a school’s existing safety policies, processes, and procedures to help keep students and teachers safe.

Mark Norris is president and CEO of Ekahau. You can read more about Ekahau’s 2013 Skyview High School case study here. View the Ekahau RTLS badge in use on YouTube.

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