Insider Look at What’s Next in School Emergency Technology

CONCORD, N.C. – Dogs that will be trained specifically to take down active shooters. High-tech turnstiles. Portable barriers that stop ramming vehicles. And more, all on display at the Campus Safety Conference. “70 percent of active shooter situations are over within 5 minutes. The last 3 we’ve all heard about in the news are even shorter than that,” says Greg Artzt. He is the CEO of PunchAlert, a mass notification system headquartered in Charlotte.

The point of PunchAlert is to streamline communication on the scene of an emergency, where even seconds count. Artzt says, “If you can reduce your response time, you might be able to save lives.”

YMCAs, churches, and schools use PunchAlert, including teachers and staff at Providence Day School. “They see this as a reality of their profession now, and they have embraced and accepted it,” says Kenna Powell. She calls herself a “campus security geek.” Her job as Director of Safety and Security for Providence Day is unusual, in that many schools don’t budget for that full-time position.

Her security advice to parents: ask your child’s school leaders questions, and follow the rules. Powell says, “Following the rules of checking in at the front desk, those may seem like small measures, but cumulatively, it really does help enhance the security of a campus.”

As technology pushes forward, schools across the country, and the Carolinas, will have to work to keep their policies practices and systems up to speed. We asked if our area’s largest district – Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools – could implement PunchAlert, district-wide. Artzt says, “It’s something the district has been looking at.”