Digital mapping of schools may aid response efforts in times of crisis
- The need for better ways to provide accurate information about school layout to emergency responders became apparent in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting when active shooters were able to kill 13 people and wound 21 others in 16 minutes, but it took police over three hours to locate all the victims, EdSource reports.
- With new technology now available, Anaheim High School in California will soon be the first in the nation to be digitally mapped so that files can be made accessible to emergency responders on their digital devices.
- The technology, available through The Sobol Group and costing about $25,000 to $30,000, required the security team to take more than 15,000 360-degree, high-resolution images that were combined with up-to-date floor plans in order to allow responders to do a virtual walk through of the building.
In the aftermath of the Parkland, FL, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, many schools are taking a hard look at their security measures to see how they can be best prepared for an active shooter or another school crisis situation. Some schools are looking at solutions for school violence while others are focusing on more immediate and visible responses such as banning traditional backpacks.
While there has been a good deal of discussion about arming teachers and staff members and the increasing the use of metal detectors, some educators worry that such measures will create a prison-like environment that will affect the school culture. Solutions such as the digital mapping of schools may be a step toward preparing for crisis situations without creating a visible reminder to students that violence is possible.
While the price tag on such measures may seem hefty, the federal government and some state governments seem to be relaxing the purse strings a little now in the interest of school safety. Administrators may be able to take advantage of this new focus on safety to request funding for digital mapping and other measures to make schools safer and aid responders in efforts to deal with crisis situations. Since school safety is a top priority for many parents as they examine school options, the cost may be recovered if more students feel comfortable attending a school they perceive as safer.