Mitigating Active Shooters in Schools

The goal of schools and education, in general, is to foster an environment that promotes learning and development for students. Not only is the safety of the children the highest priority for our society, but establishing a community in which children feel safe is the predicate for them to reach their maximum potential when involving their studies. This assertion is supported by data from a 2015 LSU study suggesting that student performance drops precipitously following homicidal shootings.

Most schools struggle with how best to ensure the safety of students and staff, while also providing uninhibited academic growth. The increasing frequency of school shootings in the United States places security in the forefront for parents, children, teachers and administrators. Thus, we need to rely on experts in this area to provide advice and counsel to schools looking for immediate and effective solutions. This will help everyone in their end goal to keep children safe.

With more than 50 million students in 15,000 diverse school districts across the country, mitigating security threats with a standard set of safety solutions seems unlikely. There is no “One size fits all” bundle of prevention and response tools that will ensure that we never have another school shooting. What works for highly populated campuses with multiple buildings might be inappropriate for in a small rural school.

Once the right security tools and procedures are identified and established, in order to be usable and efficient, they must be exercised regularly so that faculty and staff can turn to them with confidence in complex situations to keep them safe. How comfortable one is with the safety measures adopted will determine how protected the community will be in an actual event.

Mitigating the Threat

Of course, planning and training cannot guarantee that all adverse events will be prevented. If a shooter attack occurs, the key objective is to reduce the severity of the event and limiting casualties or harm to victims by neutralizing the threat. Once an active shooter incident begins, the only people stopping the threat and rendering life-saving aid are first responders. Following Columbine, police response changed. Now, in active shooter situations, officers train in “go to contact,” which means that they will go in and follow the sound of gunfire to stop the violence. The more information available to these officers, the faster they can mitigate the situation and the more lives will be saved.

While each school district will develop a customized plan and adopt tools consistent with its unique needs, an evaluation of after-action reports from active shooter events over the last few decades – Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland – identifies a common theme. Communications failures cause delays in response and impede situational awareness, leading to loss of life. Improvement in this area requires three elements:  identify potential communication gaps, address communications needs and train for competency.

Identify potential communication gaps: Before adopting technology claiming to save lives with a phone app, take stock of what you have: radio, telephone, intercoms, push-to-talk, panic buttons, fire alarms, video systems. Review publicly-available after-action reports from active shooter events. The following is questions to ask yourself…What shortcomings do they cite? What tools do you have to fill those shortcomings? Are you able to communicate by radio with law enforcement? If not, why not?  Do you have a different radio, poor inside radio coverage or no radios? Are you able to quickly share a video with law enforcement? Can police access your intercom for messaging during an incident? Will fire alarms pulled by assailants do more harm than good? Can they be linked to communications to be more helpful?

Communicating instantly and sharing information in real time with law enforcement gives schools the most important tool they can have against an active shooter. Officers can respond quickly and decisively, which means confusion is avoided and first responders have a clear picture of the scene on the ground.

Address Communications Needs

Once gaps are assessed, it’s time to put the technology in place to close the gaps where needed. This requires evaluating available solutions and should be done as a collaboration between schools and law enforcement. Rather than put together a patchwork set of tools, some school districts are turning to an integrated multimedia solution that shares radio and video whenever a teacher pushes the panic button on his or her smartphone.

Including law enforcement in the vendor presentations will ensure that whatever technology you choose, it will be compatible with law enforcement devices and procedures. The police department may not want the responsibility of monitoring your video 24/7. (And parents might object to the privacy concerns raised by such a policy.) It may not be practical for the police department to share radios with schools. In fact, the Parkland after-action report cited radio jamming that may have resulted from the strain of Broward County Public School buses sharing the radio system.

Technology needs to be sourced in parallel with developing policy. Testing technology against policy and refining policy as new technologies are identified will ensure an optimal operational solution. Once adopted, policy needs to be regularly tested and reviewed, especially following training exercises.

Train for Competency

Training needs to happen on many levels. Both prevention and response behavior benefits from training. Students need to be trained on the Run, Hide, Fight curriculum. Teachers and school administrators need to be trained on technology, process and procedures. And first responders are trained in both community policing and active shooter response. Drills and exercises build a valuable experience that familiarizes the community with tools and procedures.

Officers, post-Columbine, are trained to head straight to the sound of gunshots. Their goal is to identify and neutralize the threat first. Repeated training enables officers to internalize tactics, so they are second nature. When officers are so well-practiced in response behavior that they almost don’t need to think about it, they are capable of the critical thinking that is necessary to deal with shifting conditions when on scene and in the moment.

Optimizing the School Safety Plan

As one who comes from a history of serving and protecting, I recommend following five basic steps to formulating a School Safety Plan that will help mitigate tragic outcomes in an active shooter or other deadly situations:

1.   Develop active shooter risk assessment and management team

Of course, if we can prevent an active shooter situation, that represents the best of all outcomes. Trained individuals capable of assessing and managing troubled students who pose a risk of suicidal or homicidal behavior provide a safer environment for all. In most cases, warning signs offer an opportunity to defuse aggressive behavior before it erupts.

However, most school personnel are not trained risk assessment specialists. Therefore, the management team must put in place the best available threat and risk assessment procedures and practices. Risk management assessments that identify and evaluate gaps, potential risk factors and hazards specific to that school’s environment are key. This includes mechanisms for monitoring, information sharing, and planned intervention. Optimize policies and practices by reevaluating and testing frequently.

Schools might consider enlisting students to help mitigate threats and risks using reporting apps such as the Safe2Tell mobile app in use in Colorado. The management team receives reports to affect timely intervention. Early recognition and reporting of concerning behaviors are crucial to the effectiveness of the threat assessment team.

2.  Establish roles and responsibilities of the team

It’s important to select team members with deep, relevant security experience when possible. Typically, this means representatives from school safety, administration, psychology and medical backgrounds. While the primary role of the team is to assess potential threats and prevent violent situations from occurring, the team’s responsibility includes ensuring student and staff security, communicating with the community, and documenting the events for assessment purposes. Level-headed decision-makers will act as champions of the plans across the school.

3.   Develop assessment management team policies and procedures

Through its policies and procedures, schools articulate the behavior they value and what constitutes a threat. It guides staff response to threatening situations. To avoid ambiguity, policies should adopt direct and explicit language detailing required actions depending on the threat received. The clearer the policies and prescribed procedures, the more immediate and effective the response. Adhering to agreed-upon policies will result in a coordinated, optimal response, maximizing the opportunity to avoid violence.

4.   Training - roles, policies, and procedures

The law enforcement community understands the power of training to make sure that policies and procedures are understood and adopted. In the school environment, initial training within the management team will enable performance that can then be shared with the wider school audience. Full community-wide training that includes law enforcement and EMS responders provides experience, with after-action reports informing ongoing improvements to policy.

Training curriculums developed by expert resources will smooth the path and provide guidance for schools lacking the internal expertise in security. Advisors will help to set goals for training and provide guidance for establishing performance measures to track improvements.

5.   Implementation

With a leadership team focused on implementation and committed to measuring and monitoring response times during training exercises, the school safety plan will consistently work as designed, with incremental improvements at each review.

Implementation includes a cycle of assessing, revise, improve based on results of training, suggestions from participants and expert advisors, and new information that may be available (i.e. new after-action reports).

Daily practice with the tools and procedures will bring operational clarity and familiarity so that they are used quickly and without hesitation in a true emergency. Interoperable communications system in use in Warwick, Rhode Island, connects school radios and video to the Warwick Police Department and Fire Department automatically when a teacher presses a panic button or if a fire alarm is pulled. But the schools also use it daily for inter-school communications (text and computer-based audio).

The same is true for radios and video. If radios sit in security closets or the principal’s office unused, the staff is unlikely to turn to them during an emergency, and if they do, will be unfamiliar with their operation. Daily use on the playground and during outside gym classes will encourage proficiency.


Contributing Writer

Rob Wright is a Security Magazine contributing writer and served in law enforcement for 25 years, retiring as Detective Lieutenant from the Paramus NJ Police Department before joining Mutualink in 2010 as Business Development Director for New Jersey. Prior to law enforcement, Wright served in the United States Air Force. His professional distinctions include the Commendation Service Medal & Good Conduct Medal (Air Force) and the Meritorious Service Award (NJ Chiefs of Police). While serving in law enforcement, his expertise focused on criminal investigations, security operations and management and personal protection.

Mutualink Announces Deployment in Lake County Schools in the Wake of Parkland Shooting

Decision Based on Best Practices in School Safety

WALLINGFORD, Conn. - On June 25, 2018, the Lake County School Board approved the funding and purchase of Mutualink’s interoperable communications solution. Lake County joins many other Florida county school districts deploying Mutualink in the wake of the tragic Parkland shooting in February of this year. The school safety solution, to be installed in August, will enable real-time, instant coordination between schools and law enforcement. Teachers and administrators will now be able to instantly alert and collaborate with public safety in an emergency. Publicly reported information following the Parkland incident points to the inability of first responders to communicate by radio inside the schools, and problems accessing critical video and information.

“We are excited about the partnership with Mutualink,” said Jimmer Roy, district safety and security specialist, Office of Safety and Security, Lake County Schools, Florida. “With this solution we will have enhanced immediate communications within the school district, and to our law enforcement and emergency services. Having this technology provides improved radio communications and the ability to send urgent video feeds to those responding. This gives us the greatest opportunity for positive outcomes if the unimaginable strikes.”

“Lake County’s decision prepares them to better respond to serious threats in its schools. This will allow schools to instantly alert and communicate with first responders. Public safety will have immediate video from the school to support an effective and fast response,” said Mark Hatten, CEO of Mutualink. “Informed school safety leaders are recognizing a critically important fact that is often taken for granted. Once a life threatening event occurs in your school, the only people stopping it are your first responders. They are your life line, and there is nothing more important than being able to communicate and share information to help stop the threat faster and help injured students and staff quicker.”

Lessons learned from the Parkland shooting

Nationwide, schools like those of Lake County, Florida know that protecting their students and staff is of the utmost importance. Following the wake-up call from Parkland and the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, school administrators and law enforcement are working together to provide their communities with a safe education environment. In addition to preventative measures, they are doing this by:

Lake County joins Seminole County, Osceola County and Sumter County Schools, as well as area hospitals, higher education institutions and first responder agencies in Florida on Mutualink’s real-time emergency interoperability network. These schools join other school districts around the country implementing Mutualink, which has been recommended by leading school safety experts as an essential safety system.

Osceola County School District joins other Florida public schools and Florida State University in adopting a high-tech solution in the event of active shooter situations.

Corinne Lestch

By Corinne Lestch

JULY 27, 2018 1:04 PM


A growing number of Florida public schools and universities are adopting an emergency technology solution in response to school shootings happening around the country — and in the state’s own backyard.

Nearly 200 schools — including 75 schools in Florida’s Osceola County — along with Florida State University have opted to install the real-time interoperability solution from Mutualink, a Connecticut-based company that launched in 2016 to provide solutions for first responders, armed forces and K-12 schools and colleges.

Following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, when a gunman entered the Parkland, Florida, school and killed 17 students and staff members, school leaders throughout the state have been reevaluating safety measures and deploying more resources. Those have started to include high-tech applications and facial recognition software.

Osceola joins Seminole and Sumter County schools in Florida, as well as schools in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, in adopting Mutualink's solution, the company said. It allows teachers and staff members to have direct communication with first responders through an app that has a secure live video streaming service.

“The inability for first responders to effectively communicate with school personnel and other partner agencies during emergencies is cited as a major cause of costly delay and the impairment of swift action,” said Mark Hatten, founder and CEO of Mutualink. “Our solution closes that critical gap. In an emergency, time saved communicating and instantaneous information-sharing with first responders can save lives.”

Pete Gauntlett, chief of police and director of public safety for the city of St. Cloud, in northern Osceola County, said the rapid-fire communications features would be an invaluable tool for law enforcement in the event of a crisis situation.

“We have a very sophisticated 911 center that has the capacity to monitor video feeds, and Mutualink allows us to dial right into [the schools’] cameras and see what’s going on,” Gauntlett said in an interview with EdScoop. Other companies that provide similar emergency technology to schools include Raptor Technologies, which integrates with student information systems and can access student locations during a crisis.

Teachers and administrators are able to download Mutualink’s app on their phones, and with the tap of a red panic button, the entire school community and police department are immediately notified that there is an emergency situation. Police are then able to access video feeds on their laptops to track movements of people in the building.

A typical installation, including video and radio interoperability, plus the panic button capability, can start at around $5,000 per school for the first year, with ongoing costs in subsequent years of around $3,000.

“The primary benefit is that instant alert button,” said Gauntlett. “It’s critical because, in many cases, with our shootings around the country, there is great chaos and confusion, and teachers don’t know if it’s real or something else. This way they know to lock their doors or flee the building. We can minimize risk.”

David Perry, assistant vice president for public safety and chief of police for Florida State University, said advanced technologies will go a long way in supporting law enforcement for a host of emergency situations, including weather-related disasters and other calamities.

“The university has experienced several weather and, unfortunately, man-made emergencies over the years, and using current technologies is expected by the parents, students and employees at the university,” Perry said.

“Emergency apps, videos and other tools are used to prepare for critical incidents as well as respond to them when they occur,” he continued. “The university president and vice president for finance and administration have been instrumental in significantly improving the safety and life-saving tools deployed within the FSU Police Department.”

Perry added that Mutualink’s steady roster of clients — from sporting stadiums to hospitals to transit systems — helped when deciding which tech tool to choose.

“Other options were reviewed and considered, but in the end, Mutualink’s reliability and dependability at mass gathering events while providing support to federal, state and other law enforcement agencies was unmatched,” he said.

Gauntlett said the the solution is critical in ensuring that schools are able to transmit information despite possibly spotty Wi-Fi in heavily insulated buildings. Mutualink’s interoperability network is transport and device agnostic, and can be used through public or private LTE, satellite or terrestrial broadband.

“If you think about active shooters, the majority of the incidents are over in a matter of a few minutes,” said Gauntlett. “So time is of the essence. The faster someone can hit the panic button, that will make a difference between a near tragedy and a tragedy.”

Reach the reporter at and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

-In this Story-

Education IT NewsAppsHigher EducationK-12Privacy & Securityschool safetyschool shootingsMutualink

This summer, Texas City ISD investigated a multitude of options to improve and enhance safety and security in the district.

"We are off to a good start but there is so much more that we'll implement later," said Mike Matranga who has been employed as the executive director for safety and school safety in TCISD for the last 6 weeks. "We have to be prepared now for what we would do if we had an active shooter on campus. At the same time, we'll be putting things in place to eliminate potential risks."

There are some things that will be behind the scenes that people won't see or realize the district is doing. Other things will be very visible.

The TCISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring of an additional 8 deputies through the Galveston County Sheriff's Office bringing the total to 19 school liaison officers. Each campus, including elementary schools, will have at least one deputy. Also, for the first time ever, TCISD will have their own K-9 unit. "Our dog will be highly trained to alert on drugs. This dog will work daily in our schools and will also be present at extracurricular events that the public attends like football games," Matranga said.

Texas City ISD will become a federally recognized emergency responding agency through FirstNet/AT&T. When emergency situations take place, many phone lines get jammed with an influx of calls. This system would give our deputies and administrators the ability to have communication priority on a nationwide public safety broadband network. The Texas City Police Department and the City of Texas City will also begin using FirstNet.

Should a man-made or natural disaster strike, TCISD will use Mutualink and BearCom to share information and optimize response time. "We can do so much with this program," said Matranga. "It integrates with our existing camera systems and will work with emergency responders, hospitals and school personnel even if they have different devices and networks."

BearCom and FirstNet/AT&T will provide the indestructible equipment our staff will use to run the Mutualink software that connects with law enforcement more quickly. "Our Galveston County Sheriff's deputies will be the first on scene. Besides the panic button that will sync to 911 immediately, this program will provide other first responders and administrators with real time video and audio as an event is taking place," said Matranga. "That information is invaluable to those who are on their way to help."

The board also approved an RFID system that will monitor students and staff in buildings and buses. "There have been school districts that have received push back in the past from parents about school personnel being able to track their children," said Matranga. "But the location data this system provides is crucial if there is a problem like a medical emergency, fight or worse." The system can also be used in non-emergency situations like being able to generate attendance reports.

When all staff members return in August, professional development will have a strong focus on security. All staff will go through threat assessment training. Administrators had the training in April. The training will help all staff learn how to identify, investigate and evaluate threats. "This was the best training I have ever been to in my professional career," said Dr. Rodney Cavness, superintendent of schools. "After every school shooting, there are people who say they knew it was going to happen. The signs were there from interactions with friends or social media messages. This training will give us all the tools we need so that we can appropriately assess a threat and get the help a student needs before they do something violent to themselves or others," he said. All staff members will also receive Stop the Bleed training to know how to help in a bleeding emergency before professionals arrive.

Other things that will be implemented this school year include: mental health reporting, bullet proof glass reception areas, social media monitoring, infrastructure security improvements (ex. doors, windows, locks), upgraded camera systems, and student/parent safety committees. Other safety measures TCISD is continuing with include the free smartphone anonymous reporting app called P3 Campus. Students, parents and anyone in the school community should download and use it to report safety concerns. In addition, TCISD will conduct its second joint active shooter training at La Marque High School on August 7 with Texas City and La Marque police, fire and emergency management. The first one was held in March at Texas City High School.

"We hope that our parents and community will feel more comfortable knowing that we are working hard daily for TCISD to have some of the best-protected students and staff in the United States," said Cavness.

Students and parents need to know that TCISD will be very strict on ID and dress code enforcement. "We need parents to reiterate at home the importance of following the school rules for not only their personal safety but for the safety of every person on campus" Cavness said.



To learn more about the technology Texas City ISD deployed, visit


Capt. Francis of Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Recounts Lessons Learned and Advocates for Instant Radio and Video Sharing Between Schools and Law Enforcement

Wallingford, CT – Mutualink, Inc. a leading worldwide provider of secure interoperable communications solutions, today announced that school safety leader Captain Rick Francis of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, located in Seminole County, Florida, delivered powerful testimony to the Texas House of Representatives on June 27, 2018 outlining the imperative of implementing interoperable communications for emergency response in schools.

Serving Seminole County’s school district of 63 public schools with 67,000 students and 10,000 employees, the 10-year veteran recounted Florida’s losses during the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, and the loss Texas suffered during the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School. According to Capt. Rick Francis, in the wake of these tragedies, school response has been to harden facilities to enforce prevention. While this approach has value, hardening can’t stop a crisis already in
process. Today’s schools rely on first responders to effectively handle crises, and strong communication is key.

“The single most important capability a school must have is the ability to instantly and directly communicate with first responders in an emergency,” said Capt. Francis. “The ability for schools to share information in real time about what is happening and to stream live video to public safety as
events unfold is critical to law enforcement being able to respond quickly and decisively.

“Here are the hard facts. Virtually all after incident reports share a common theme. Communications problems and the inability of the school and law enforcement agencies to coordinate is repeatedly cited as a major response failure and source of costly time delays and inaction. Publicly reported information from the Parkland shooting clearly makes the case. In that event, multiple agencies responded but could not communicate with each other. Calls from the school were routed through 9-1-1 and information was slow to be disseminated. It took law enforcement more than twenty minutes to access school video and identify what the shooter looked like. The shooter escaped from the school mingling with students and made it out to the community at large. The shooter was one rifle away from committing even more slaughter as students congregated outside the school. But Parkland is not unique. The same stories are repeated over and over. Five years prior, a lack of interoperable communications caused delays and confusion at Sandy Hook.”

Capt. Francis then discussed the solution: interoperable communications technology, a breakthrough in the world of emergency response that provides schools with significant advantages in the face of crises. It was even utilized in a real emergency that his own office encountered.

“In Seminole County, we set out to address this critical safety gap by implementing a system that enables school radio and communication systems to directly link with our office and seamlessly communicate with our radios,” said Capt. Francis. “The system also immediately begins streaming live video feeds from the school to our office, so we can not only talk with people on the scene but also see what is happening.
This gives us tremendous situational awareness and tactical advantages, speeding up response and resolution. If we can know the who, what and where up to the second, we can rapidly move to the threat and contain it. We know what we are dealing with. This not only saves lives by stopping the threat faster, it also significantly improves officer safety. As partner agencies arrive, we can also communicate with them providing more effective force multipliers to the situation, ranging from containment, traffic control, medical assistance coordination and evacuation to hospital coordination.

“The system we implemented has proven effective and reliable already in the case of a suspected person reported carrying a gun,” said Capt. Francis. “We were able to immediately observe the person, communicate with personnel on the ground, coordinate activities and take action with incredible speed. Thankfully, it was a false alarm.”

Capt. Francis closed his testimony looking to Texas law enforcement for new ideas and best practices as they jointly confront the ongoing challenges today’s schools encounter.

Watch Testimony Highlights Here


Interoperability solution connects radios, mobile phones, video systems and data to close gaps in situational awareness

WALLINGFORD, Conn., June 20, 2018: In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy, Osceola County schools, along with Florida State University (FSU), join a growing list of Florida school districts and universities implementing Mutualink’s real time emergency interoperability solution. Leon County, home to FSU’s main campus, is also deploying the technology. This solution enables direct communication with first responders in the event of an emergency, and securely shares video and other critical information instantaneously.

“The inability for first responders to effectively communicate with school personnel and other partner agencies during emergencies is cited as a major cause of costly delay and the impairment of swift action,” said Mark Hatten, founder and CEO of Mutualink. “Our solution closes that critical gap and is one of the most important safety improvements schools across the nation can implement. In an emergency, time saved communicating and instantaneous information sharing with first responders can save lives.”

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, 134 mass shooting incidents have occurred as of June 18, 2018. In 2017, 346 mass shootings happened in the US. Mutualink helps coordinate response to these types of incidents, which often requires coordination across jurisdictions and with private entities such as hospitals, malls, universities and utilities; and other public entities such as schools, state police and mass transit.

As the state of Florida seeks to address school security this summer, Mutualink anticipates many more counties will soon be adopting the interoperability platform. According to Mark Hatten, dozens of districts throughout the state have already contacted Mutualink, and many more inquiries are expected. “Our solution has become the recognized standard of excellence in school safety, and many communities are recognizing Mutualink is an essential life safety capability that must be in our schools.”

The Florida network now includes:


Key Educators, Law Enforcement and Legislators Engage in a Powerful Interoperability Discussion

WALLINGFORD, Conn., June 6, 2018 Mutualink, a leading worldwide provider of secure interoperable communications solutions, joined with the Campus Safety and Security Department of Seminole State College to host the Florida School Security Summit on May 22, 2018. School security experts, law enforcement, administrators, teachers and legislators came together to discuss school safety challenges. Among the issues discussed, a key point of agreement focused on the importance of direct emergency communications between schools and first responders.

In Florida, like other states, school campuses and interiors can be complex. Even in smaller schools, when a major crisis occurs events are chaotic and fast-moving. Being able to communicate and relay critical information to first responders as a crisis unfolds is essential to stopping the threats as quickly as possible. Saving time literally saves lives. Florida State University Police Chief David Perry gave a riveting recounting of the FSU campus shooting. Direct communication to the university’s dispatch center, he said, saved over two minutes of response time, and likely saved the loss of multiple lives.

Captain Rick Francis of Seminole County Sheriff’s Office spoke on the importance of direct emergency communications between his office and the county’s 63 schools. Capt. Francis performed a live Mutualink communications and video sharing demonstration. The demo began with the push of a smartphone panic button, which instantly opened communications between the Sheriff’s Office and school security. Simultaneously, video views from the school displayed on the dispatch desktop, providing critical information for situation assessment and response.

Mutualink’s solution provides seamless radio interoperability along with mobile and landline voice communications systems, as well as real-time secure video sharing, geospatial information and data sharing capabilities. Mutualink’s nationwide instant interoperable networking and collaboration platform is used by state and local public safety agencies, critical infrastructure, schools and private enterprise security to easily connect with one another for secure critical communications. It has been proven to reduce the time to resolution in active shooter events by as much as 50 percent in exercises conducted by law enforcement teams.

“Time and again, after action reports from school shooting incidents and other disasters pinpoint a failure of communications and an inability for agencies to coordinate, resulting in a slower response,” said Joe Mazzarella, senior vice president and chief legal counsel for Mutualink. “Parkland, Sandy Hook and countless other tragedies report the same problem afterwards. Schools need real-time direct emergency interoperable communications and information sharing with first responders. It’s a fundamental necessity.”

Guilford County Sheriff’s Office looking to use real-time communication to help protect schools


GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It only takes a few minutes for an emergency, like an active shooter situation, to unfold.

Shootings at high schools in both Florida and more recently, Maryland are prime examples.

It's why the Guilford County Sheriff's Office is hoping to use technology to keep a better eye on schools, no matter where deputies are.

“By having it in the schools we would be able to... schools would use it on an everyday basis... tying it in to their current cameras and actually be able to tie in different radio systems,” Colonel Randy Powers said.

Powers’ is referring to Mutualink.

It’s an emergency response communication system that would allow schools at their discretion to share real-time video and radio gateways with law enforcement with just a click of a button.

It’s already being used in schools, the military and hospital across the country, according to its website.

The sheriff's office says once a school presses that button a deputy, for example, can check out what's going on inside of their patrol car.

“By us being able to see the person we have a much better chance of identifying the person once we go in,” Powers said.

The sheriff's office has been working with Mutualink for about 10 years and says when they presented this idea to Guilford County Schools back in 2010, it was turned down.

“The big reason we were told no is because they felt like we were invading their privacy. Even though I tried to tell them that the only time that we get to see it is when they press the button and let us have the right to be there. We don't get a chance to look at it any time we want,” Powers said.

Guilford County Schools responded in an email to FOX8 saying they are aware of the sheriff's ongoing interest but have not had the opportunity to meet or discuss it with him since 2010.

They go on to tell us that since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, they have invested more than $8 million upgrading and increasing security measures at schools.

Guilford County Schools also says that they a joint facility study underway addressing school safety.

The sheriff's office crunched the numbers and told us that it's a little over $1 million to put MutuaLink in every school in Guilford County, which is roughly $9,000 per school.

Sheriff Barnes says he's in talks with state lawmakers and county commissioners on how to fund it.


For more on Mutualin's K-12 solution, visit

Seminole schools security system includes panic button phone app

By Erin Murray, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 12:55 PM EDT

SANFORD -- After shootings like the one last month in Parkland, several school districts are taking a hard look at their security measures.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and school district feel a system they use called Mutualink is something that all schools districts across the state should implement.

Captain Rick Francis with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office did a test run of the system to show how it instantly connects various emergency response agencies with just the click of a panic button.

“More importantly, we know who is calling, we know what emergency they are declaring, and we know where they are,” said Capt. Francis.

When an emergency comes in, Mutualink allows for video, radio communication and GPS location to be shared with any agency Seminole County connects to access.

Teachers and staff in @SCPSInfo are able to press a panic button via the app @RaveMSafety and through a security system called @MutualinkInc have emergency crews dispatched immediately. Spoke to @SeminoleSO about why the system works. @MyNews13

“Once that event is created, I can share that video with other first responders. I can share it with hospitals,” said Capt. Francis.

“A responding officer needs to see what he is getting into, it is the best way to respond,” said Jeff Doran, Mutualink Senior Project Manager.

The system is not just used in schools. In Central Florida, it is used in airports, hospitals, malls, businesses and even theme parks.

“They are acting as a peer in this community. They are not subordinate to anybody, that we are all in this together as a community,” said Doran.

To strengthen their system even more, Seminole County Schools also uses an app called Rave Panic Button.

“So how it works is, [teachers] hold this button down for 1.5 seconds. It does the counterclockwise sweep,” said Capt. Francis.

The app allows teachers and staff to send an alert for emergency situations like active shooter, fire, medical emergency and other issues.

“We wanted this technology to save lives. The second reason we deployed it here, we wanted to put that ability to declare an emergency in everybody’s hands, but third, and more importantly, we want to have quick resolution to the problem,” said Capt. Francis.

Orlando, Fl.   Today, Mutualink, Inc. and TrafficLand, Inc. announced a new partnership, which will enable Mutualink customers to gain direct real-time traffic camera access to video across the nation as part of its national interoperability network.  Under the arrangement, emergency response agencies and support entities will be able to access and view live traffic camera feeds as they collaborate with one another, providing another source of critical information for coordinated assessment and response.   The new video content will be accessible through Mutualink’s real-time geospatial user interface, which provides real-time information from sensors and other data sources.

Real-Time Traffic Camera Access

The TrafficLand real-time video will be integrated into the Mutualink platform and made available in secure interoperable incident sessions with necessary partners.  According to Mark Hatten, Chief Executive Officer of Mutualink, the new partnership adds valuable ground information to Mutualink’s enhanced multimedia interoperability platform. “Mutualink’s interactive mapping interface offers real-time content such as weather, traffic, air, maritime and vehicle location, end-user locations, social media and a variety of other relevant real-time data sources in a fused information display interface for better situational awareness. This is done on an incident session specific view basis as well as a general network view basis within our real-time interoperable communications and collaboration framework that is powerful,” said Hatten.

According to Lawrence Nelson, the CEO of TrafficLand, the new partnership offers exciting possibilities by leveraging TrafficLand’s national content footprint and Mutualink’s national interoperability network. “We are excited about this new partnership because both companies are leaders in their respective areas.  TrafficLand network video offers eyes-on-the-ground, real-time content today, and is working with its partners to develop advanced analytic tools for roadway incidents and weather-related that will be very useful for first responders.  The usefulness of this content and our capabilities are magnified within a real-time interoperable collaboration network of partner agencies working together.”

According to Mutualink, TrafficLand content will be made available as part of its standard platform offering without additional cost to its customers.  More advanced access and analytics options will be made available as well for those agencies requiring additional services.

March 7, 2018

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