The events of December 14, 2012—when a gunman burst into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., and killed 26 adults and children—remains indelibly etched in the minds of educators and parents everywhere. As a result, public school officials nationwide are still asking the question: What can we do if Sandy Hook happens here?
This fall, in time for the 2015-16 school year, the superintendents of the five school districts in Franklin County, Maine, answered that question. That's when all 16 schools in the districts were equipped with an emergency-alert solution from Punch Alert, based in Charlotte, N.C. The system lets teachers and school officials send out distress calls with a touch of a button on a smartphone application. Thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons installed within the schools, the system can also forward an intruder's location to first-responders.
Then, at the Maine Chiefs of Police Association conference in February 2015, Cote connected with a company that provides emergency communications services to schools. He scheduled a meeting for the vendor and Tom Ward, the superintendent of Franklin County's Regional School Unit (RSU) 9, one of the five school districts. Ward was receptive to the idea of using the notification technology within his district—provided that money for it could be found.
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