Cameras in classrooms are a valuable tool for a variety of reasons. They can be used for video conferences or for classroom-based morning announcements. They can even be used for classroom observation, which can be a useful resource for teachers to initiate a video recording of incidences in the classroom or to identify and document bullying.
Cameras can also be vital for emergency situations. Not only can they record an event to be analyzed after the fact, but they can also pop and display live video feeds from the point of interest to staff PCs and digital signage. Additionally these cameras can deliver live video feed to police, fire fighters, or other emergency responders. Having advanced knowledge of a situation can mean saving more lives.
Posted in Education, Emergency Communication, Everyday Communication
Tagged Camera, digital signage, emergency, everyday, hdtv, live, MediaPort, recorded, routing, school, Technology
In an emergency, like the mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, seconds matter enormously. An event of that nature is impossible to predict, and thus impossible to completely prevent, but if improving the speed and effectiveness of emergency communications can save at least one life, then it’s vital to do so. An emergency management and notification system needs to be able to provide specific, relevant instructions to different groups of people, give different sets of information to students, teachers, and parents, and to quickly notify and inform the police or other emergency responders.
Security features that can warn of an impending emergency are also vital. Features such as glass-break detectors, wireless panic buttons, fire panel integration, audio/visual PA, cameras, and location-aware way-finding can prevent bullying, save lives, and overall make schools a safer place without the hassle, expense, limitations or risk of armed security guards. While a security guard could provide some level of protection, it’s very expensive to employ even one inflatable water slides for sale. Also, a security guard cannot be in more than one room at a time, while cameras can be in every room and can project a live feed to first emergency responders and police, providing situational awareness so they can be prepared for the situation.
For the 2012 Olympics, London, which already had a large number of security cameras, did everything from install surface-to-air missiles to surveillance systems for infectious diseases. One of the most important innovations for the Olympic Games, however, is probably the introduction of the Apollo network. For the first time in Olympic history, Private Mobile Services Radio provider is a sponsorship category. Airwave, the company that built the Airwave Network, in use by London emergency services since the emergency communications debacle of the 2005 bombings of the London Underground, is the official sponsor in that category. For the London Olympic Games, Airwave built a completely new communications network, called the Apollo Network, that was separate from the existing emergency services Airwave network. This network ensures communication across London with no interference from other radio systems. Airwave also improved the existing emergency services radio network, increasing its capacity, especially in the areas where security would be of bigger concern.
Radio communication was first proposed in London after the mobile phone network, which had been the primary emergency communications system, was overloaded during the aftermath of the bombing of the London Underground. Since then, the Airwave radio network, implemented in 2006 as the Connect Project, has proven to be exceptional, especially underground, and secure and efficient. The Airwave network was tested by a real emergency situation in during the 2011 riots. This made the network ideal for the increased security measures taken for the Olympic Games, although a separate network was required in order to retain the same levels of efficiency and resilience.
Mobile phone technology is ubiquitous in our culture. Nearly everyone has a mobile phone, and given the recent developments of their capabilities, it’s easy to see why. Phones can function as GPS units, mobile media devices and mini computers in addition to the more basic features such as text messaging, e-mail, and phone calls. Perhaps because of this as well as the widespread use of such devices, many emergency communications services rely on mobile phones to disseminate emergency messages and alerts. This has resulted in varying levels of success.
In some emergency situations, mobile phones have provided most, if not all, of the emergency communication. In the recent shootings at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, people trapped inside the temple used cell phones to contact those outside. One woman phoned her niece from inside a cupboard to warn her not to go near the temple. While this event was horrific, it was on a small enough scale that mobile phone technology was the best form of emergency communication. Reaching small numbers of people doesn’t overload a mobile network, while an event on a larger scale, such as the London Subway Bombings in 2005, the reliance on mobile phone communication overloaded and crippled the mobile phone networks, essentially rendering the emergency response departments unable to communicate with the victims or with each other. In large-scale emergency events, mobile phone emergency communications have proven themselves to be unreliable.
Having multiple modes of emergency communications, such as radios, digital signage, speakers, and alarms, can often save lives where a single mode of communication could fail. Even in small-scale emergencies, while mobile phones have proven useful, it’s impossible to predict the nature or scale of an emergency ahead of time. It is also impossible to predict how an emergency will be perceived by the people involved. A low-risk situation could still cause wide-spread panic that overloaded a network.