By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology
The Parkway School District covers about 64 square miles in St. Louis County. With 30 schools and additional district buildings, security is a big undertaking. Robbie Winckel, Parkway School’s supervisor of security, now has access to high-level security assistance with new software called 911 Real-Time Analytics (911 RTA), developed by St. Louis-based SirenGPS.
“SirenGPS really allows us to receive early notifications on not only what’s going on- on our property, but around it as well,” said Winckel. “And that’s crucial because we are able to implement our emergency procedures in a more timely manner.”
According to SirenGPS, 911 RTA integrates with local 911 to activate emergency plans and protocols for schools to respond more quickly in an emergency.
The software’s mapping tools and features show 911 calls in real time by dropping pins on the map identifying locations of emergency calls and threats. The pins connect users to necessary information and correlate with notification alerts.
At Parkway Schools, Winckel has the map on a monitor in the security office. The software drops the pin when 911 operators dispatch first responders to the pinned location. Notifications are also sent to the mobile devices of authorized school personnel. When a threat is identified on or near school property, 911 RTA sends incident descriptions assigned by 911 dispatch to the cell phones and desktops of security and administrators.
The software allows schools to choose exact locations and types of threats they consider immediate, or could escalate into a threat. Pins and alerts may include everything from medical emergencies to an active shooter.
Before this, Winckel said he might not have known about a call until the situation was over.
“You would have to rely on local law enforcement to think to notify us and say, ‘Hey, you know, we just had an armed robbery at this location,’” said Winckel.
With the new technology at Parkway Schools, security and administration will know about a call before police arrive on scene.
Parkway is receiving the security software at no charge by participating in the product launch. Missouri’s Regional Justice Information System, REJIS, partnered with SirenGPS to offer the technology to public schools in the St. Louis region.
REJIS and SirenGPS are making 911 RTA available without charge to K-12 public schools in the St. Louis region through the 911 RTA Public School Program.
School districts initially participating in the launch of the program include:
- Jennings School District
- Lindbergh School District
- Maplewood Richmond Heights School District
- Mehlville School District
- Parkway School District
Paul Rauner, Siren GPS Founder & CEO, said the success of the technology relies on participation from law enforcement
“Getting law enforcement comfortable with it. They’re really the gatekeepers for information from 911,” said Rauner. “Parkway Schools has schools that are in four different 911 service areas. So for Parkway school security to see what’s happening, they’ve got to somehow get information from all four of those different places where they answer their 911 calls. Otherwise you can imagine it’s challenging.”
Proximity alerts to crimes and traffic accidents may also help efforts for efficient and safe bus transportation. One recent success for Parkway Schools was a 911 call about power lines down in the roadway.
“That was really key to us because we didn’t want to put the kids on the bus and just having them sit there,” explained Winckel. ” So that information that we received was really critical.”