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Idaho School Installs RTLS to Make Students Safer

Employees at Skyview High School wear Ekahau Wi-Fi badges that can be used to call for help in the event of a security threat or medical emergency, and also trigger a lockdown.
By Claire Swedberg

The blue button signifies a health-related emergency. If someone pushes that button, the school nurses receive the alert, as well as Ford and the administrative staff. That button has been pushed several times, he says, and has enabled a quick response to the individuals involved.

If a serious incident occurs, such as sounds of gunfire or a student being spotted with a weapon, a staff member pulls on the tag, causing an alert to be sent to all staff members via their tags. In such a scenario, the Ekahau software also directs the alert to a central police dispatcher, enabling an immediate response. While Ekahau's technology could trigger the automatic closing and locking of doors as well, Ford says he opted against utilizing that function.

Although the school's existing Wi-Fi nodes were sufficient to read tags throughout the buildings, Ford says, the school installed 22 Ekahau IR beacons in various areas, to better pinpoint the tags' locations. Each battery-powered IR beacon sends its unique identifier to the tags, which read that ID number and transmit that beacon's ID to the Wi-Fi access points, along with their own number.

According to Ford, the current installation is a pilot for the high school, but the district intends to transition into a permanent deployment by the beginning of the next school year. If funding allows, he notes, the district hopes to install the system at all of its schools.

"It provides empowerment for the teachers," Ford states. "My main goal is not just to do this at Skyview High School, or throughout the district or Idaho, but throughout the country."

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