Switchvox & Quicklert: Making Schools Safer with UC

By Emily Arnold

Safety has always been a top priority for schools. However, in light of recent events, ensuring staff and student safety has taken on a much bigger role. Many schools and school districts are seeing Unified Communications (UC) systems as one way to prepare for emergency events as well as a means for providing ongoing security.

The state of Wisconsin, for example, recently earmarked US$100 million for schools to upgrade aging technology in response to recent security concerns. Many schools chose Switchvox, Digium’s award-winning Unified Communications solution, not only because it was affordable for their tight budgets, but because it is a standards-based platform that could be integrated with other technologies for providing a holistic security solution. You can read the story here.

One of the technologies that Switchvox integrates with to provide schools with a safer environment is Quicklert. I briefly described Quicklert in a recent blog post as a secure messaging and alert management system that can send mass notifications with the touch of a button. While that is true, the technology does so much more and Quicklert Chairman and Co-Founder Kevin Brown has even more plans for the future that will truly transform safety and security in schools.

Switchvox is currently one of only two phone systems that integrate with Quicklert. However, Switchvox is certainly the more affordable of the two solutions, making it a better option for schools who are often faced with tight technology budgets.

We recently spoke with Mr. Brown to discuss Quicklert, its integration with Switchvox, and how it is positively impacting school safety. You can read the interview below.

What does Quicklert do for the education industry?

At Quicklert, we have re-imagined emergency response for schools. Many schools are migrating from older, antiquated technologies, including phone systems, speakers on walls, and bell systems. So, we have simplified emergency response for these institutions – consolidating multiple functions in a new and innovative technology design.

The result is a unified solution that detects emergency situations, notifies the right people, and uses continuous communications to accelerate response functions. Best of all, these functions are embedded in the school’s daily activities – the same solution that detects and responds to emergency situations also rings the bells in the classrooms and is used for basic announcements and communications with parents. The school personnel use the solution every day, which means when an event occurs they inherently know how to respond.

Best of all, this approach allows schools to consolidate budgets by eliminating older technologies and their expenses to free up funds in a very financially-limited market.

Why does a school need Quicklert?

A school needs Quicklert because, unfortunately, things happen. Someone gets hurt, and 911 needs to be called. A bus breaks down, and now children are stuck somewhere away from the school. A fire breaks out or inclement weather causes an early dismissal. An intruder enters a campus, and in the worst-case scenario, has a weapon.

Increasingly, schools are adopting our solutions to create safer campuses – and save money in the process. By deploying Quicklert, schools take care of 911 notifications, mass alerts during emergencies, basic announcements, early dismissals, parent communications, early detection of dangerous events . . . and the same solution rings the class bells – all off-the-shelf without any custom development or difficult configurations.

What are some use cases for Quicklert?

A – An intruder enters a school with a gun. Quicklert technology (hanging on the walls and appearing to be nothing more than exit signs or clocks or stairwell signs) immediately recognizes the weapon before it is fired and sends out alerts to the security team and to the local police.

B – A student has a diabetic seizure. The teacher in the room calls 911. By calling 911, Quicklert technology sees the call and automatically sends alerts to the mobile phones and computers of key personnel designated as part of the 911 response team – including the campus nurse.  While the 911 call is in progress, the campus nurse is rushing to the classroom to offer on-site assistance while waiting for the authorities.

C – A school bus breaks down (or is incapacitated in an accident). The bus driver has nervous and frightened kids on the bus. These kids are likely using social media to post what is happening. Oftentimes, that’s how parents find out their kids are in trouble. However, Quicklert technology, running on the mobile phone of the bus driver, allows the driver to depress an icon.  Instantly, an alert is sent back to the school principal and to the transportation depot, along with GPS coordinates. Now the right officials know exactly where the bus is located – all because of one button.

D – A fire breaks out at a school campus. Despite numerous fire drills, when the real thing happens, human emotions and panic kick in. People head toward the exits and stairwells – even if that is where the fire began. Quicklert technology hanging on the walls (as speakers, exit signs, stairwell signs) both visually and audibly begin giving intelligent instructions – because the technology knows where the fire began. So, people in one corridor are given one set of evacuation instructions, while people in another corridor are given different evacuation instructions. All of this is driven by wall and ceiling units that – just minutes before – were clocks, exit signs, and stairwell signs.

Often in schools, it takes 3-4 different technology solutions to accomplish the previous tasks.  With Quicklert, all is handled within one simplified, cost-effective solution that saves money, consolidates budgets, and eliminates training headaches because it is ONE solution taught to everyone.

Are there levels of alerts that segment contacts?  

Quicklert’s flexibility allows alert levels at whatever granularity a school may desire. They can have a 911 group that is alerted when 911 is called. They can have an All group that includes every phone and speaker on the campus. They can have a group for all high school phones or all middle school phones, etc. They can have a group for first floor classrooms, second floor classrooms, etc. They can have a group for all parents in the district, all parents in a school, all parents in a particular grade or classroom, etc.

There is virtually no limit to the number of groups or the granularity.

How does a school integrate Quicklert to a Switchvox Unified Communications solution? Is it easy?

Quicklert software uses an HTTPS link to integrate with Digium Switchvox. This easy, effective integration allows us to install and configure the system in minutes. Often, a Quicklert experience is up and running within half an hour. In fact, we had Avon Grove Schools’ instance deployed within 20 minutes, including all 911 alerts.

When would a school deploy Quicklert?

Ideally, they will deploy Quicklert with a new Digium Switchvox UC installation. This is the best option as the customer already has a budget and doesn’t need to go through multiple procurements and training. Or, it can be installed after a UC deployment when the focus may be more on emergency response.

Next Steps

Digium Switchvox and Quicklert are changing the game for school safety and security. To learn more about how Switchvox can transform your school’s communications, visit digium.com/education. Or, if you would like to speak with someone about installing Switchvox with Quicklert in your school, contact one of our VoIP experts.

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About the Author

Emily Arnold

Emily is the Content Strategist for Digium. In this role, she leads the content marketing strategy to further develop and execute upon Digium’s overall brand messaging, value propositions, competitive differentiators, and industry standing as a thought leader. Prior to joining Digium in 2013, Emily worked with engineering and e-commerce companies to develop their SEO, social media, and content strategies. She graduated with honors from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a BSBA in Management and Marketing.

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