New system combines classroom audio, emergency alert

A new system could help campuses respond to emergencies much quicker.
A new system could help campuses respond to emergencies much quicker.

A new classroom product that combines sound amplification, lecture capture, and emergency alert capabilities in a single system could have a big impact on the safety of K-12 and higher-education classrooms.

The Safe Security system, from Panasonic and Audio Enhancement, features a button on a microphone worn around the instructor’s neck that, when pressed, sends a silent alarm to a school’s central offices and to administrators. Once alerted, school leaders have access to a live video feed courtesy of a networked camera inside the classroom, as well as to the audio feed captured on the microphone, and they can immediately assess what type of emergency is occurring in the classroom.

Jeff Anderson, president of Audio Enhancement, said many teachers wear wireless microphones around their necks as part of standard classroom audio systems, and incorporating a built-in security alert system was a logical next step.

If there is an incident in the classroom–an attacker, a medical emergency, or whatever–all a teacher must do is hold down a button on the audio transmitter for two seconds. Three blue lights will appear on the transmitter to let the instructor know that the alarm has been activated.

Activating the alarm sends an eMail message to any number of designated school employees, and the message would make a unique sound on administrators’ smart phones. Schools also can install a siren strobe in their main administrative offices, which will light up to tell designated employees to check their eMail for an alert. The emergency eMail message contains a link that, once clicked, takes administrators to the live audio and video feed from the classroom.

“Going past the basic [classroom audio and security functions], schools can also program the camera for distance learning,” Anderson said. “I believe education is going to move that way.”

The Safe System can shorten the amount of time it takes first responders to appear or react, he added.

The MS1000, the system’s monitoring console, runs on a network that is independent from a school’s eMail server, which Anderson said is an effort to keep the system running quickly, because school eMail servers can become bogged down.

“Administrators and first responders [should] know what they need to be prepared for and if they should even enter the room,” Anderson said, calling the combined solution “a
game-changer; … something education hasn’t seen, and something education wants.”

Bob Fortenberry, a former school district superintendent, said safety is one of several benefits the system offers. Fortenberry spent 17 years as superintendent of Jackson Public Schools in Jackson, Miss., before becoming a private-sector educational consultant.

Laura Ascione

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