Skånegatan, Gothenburg is home to three secondary schools that have chosen to upgrade their security and communication channels – Bernadottegymnasiet, Burgårdens Gymnasium and Katrinelundsgymnasiet. A fourth, Motorbranschens Tekniska Gymnasium, has recently been added to the project as well.
These schools are not alone, as 70% of Swedish municipalities report having increased the security of their schools for the last few years. However, this usually entails more traditional measures like cameras, access control or alarms. There’s still very few schools with a critical communications system as up to date as these four in Gothenburg.
What exactly does the system entail? Let’s take a look.
The Issue at Hand
Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, and the three original schools involved in the project are placed right in the middle of it. They count 3300 students and teachers all together – which places quite a strain on organization, communication and, yes, safety.
While in no way unique to the schools in question, threats and violent altercations are on the rise in schools all over Europe. This means fast communication is essential if you’re going to curb incidents before they get out of hand. If you can handle these smaller incidents quickly, you can often prevent them from escalating into serious violence.
Anders Ekman works as Service Manager for the schools in question, and was responsible for negotiating the deal with AddSecure and headed the project from the municipality’s end. He elaborates on the issues that made them seek a new solution in the first place:
“We’re always working on safety and security in our schools, and we saw a need for spreading information quickly in case of certain events. We needed to update our communication in a simple way, whether that’s fire alarms or communication between teachers or safety team members in a crisis.”
AddSecure’s School Safety Solution
Ekman explains how the schools looked at different possible vendors, but quickly landed on AddSecure’s comprehensive communication system:
“We felt that AddSecure’s system, while easy to use, also had a more future oriented perspective. They’re ahead of the technology, and lets us combine many different systems digitally. The competitors’ solutions felt a lot more conventional.”
So what is the actual solution?
AddSecure School Safety is a series of components that enables school staff to communicate quickly through several channels, like mobile apps, pagers, personal alarms, digital radio, information screens and predefined voice messages. The pagers are an essential addition to the phone app, that ensures you’ll always be able to reach the right people, even if your cell phone has no charge or the mobile network is under strain – a common problem during a crisis. An entire new paging network has been set up across all four schools, to warn the others if something were to happen, and prevent visits until the situation is resolved. The system may also communicate with emergency networks and various alarm centrals.
The entire AddSecure School Safety solution is actually a modified version of a system that’s been well proven in operation for many years. It’s in use for 70% of the Swedish Fire Department, The Swedish Sea Rescue Society (its paging network spanning an incredible 4000 kilometers), as well as several shopping malls, arenas etc.
“AddSecure School Safety addresses all kinds of scenarios: A teacher feeling unsafe and needing backup, keeping count of students in case of fire, or even notifying us if a cooler stops working in the cantina. It’s all these different small parts that add up to make the system so useful.”
The Road Ahead
While AddSecure delivers the technology, it’s up to each school to develop routines for using it, albeit with some advice from AddSecure. It’s vital that AddSecure School Safety is a regular part of the teachers’ and other staff’s routine, to ensure they’ll also have an easy and intuitive time using it in case of a larger emergency.
The entire network is built in a way that allows flexibility and easy scalability both within the schools, as well as when other schools are added to the project. To put it succinctly, it’s built both to last and to grow.
Ekman says he has no complaints about the project whatsoever:
“It’s been an utterly problem free process, and very professional. AddSecure has offered great solutions for our original problems, as well as pointing out several other opportunities we hadn’t thought of ourselves. It will reduce our workload considerably.”