Mobile County Public Schools and the City of Mobile have, through a collaborative effort, secured a federal COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grant of approximately $400,000 to fund a major security technology initiative at Davidson High School.
The state-of-the-art project involves a central panel that will integrate access control, a color-coded lighting system for emergencies such as a lockdown or fire, and several notification systems, such as push notifications to computers and digital signage. The central panel would also make automatic notification to law enforcement agencies and parents when appropriate.
“This is cutting-edge. I don’t know of another system anywhere that is going to have anything like this,” MCPSS Director of Security Andy Gatewood. “There are so many capabilities with these program. “Everything that needs to happen can happen with the push of a button, as far as notifications and lockdowns.”
Gatewood said there will be some training of students and faculty, particularly with a color-coded light system that will alert students of potential threats with a color assigned to each. “So they know if they see a certain color, what that means – lockdown, evacuate, whatever,” Gatewood said. “That’s the important part of it – for them to know, to kind of become second-nature, what they’re supposed to do in case of an emergency.”
David Akridge, MCPSS executive director of information technology, added that first responders will have the ability to access school cameras and audio systems inside the school when responding to an emergency. “This is huge for our first responders – to keep them safe and let them assess the situation and see what’s going on inside the building before they respond,” he said.
Akridge said the hope is to have his pilot project completed at Davidson by the end of the calendar year. Its effectiveness will then be assessed before the system looks to expand the program to its other schools.
“Because this is such a new concept and there so many things that are intangible that we can’t see now, we need to build this project, we need to look at it from the standpoint of: how does it work, how do the kids react, and then we have lots of things we have to tweak and fix,” he said. “We want to prove the concept and how it’s going to work and I think there’s a lot of eyes on what we’re going to do.”