Many school districts have police notification systems in place in case of an active shooter or other emergency situation, but in many cases, police or other responders do not get to the scene in time to prevent further casualties. A study from the Department of Homeland Security showed that while the average mass shooting lasted 12.5 minutes, the average response time was 18 minutes.
The increase in school shootings over the years prompted Nate McVicker, a police officer and co-founder of SchoolGuard, to take action. Along with Mike Snyder, a retired Illinois State Police colonel, and a few programmers, McVicker launched SchoolGuard in May of this year.
About 12,000 police officers in all 50 states have downloaded the app since its inception, McVicker told Mashable. Additionally, 60 schools in five states — Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and Texas — have adopted the program. McVicker expects 300 to 400 more schools to introduce SchoolGuard over the next few months.
“We wanted to get as many officers on board as possible,” he said. “Now, we’re starting to roll out to the schools.”
Unlike a traditional panic button, SchoolGuard operates using a smartphone or tablet.
Unlike a traditional panic button, SchoolGuard operates using a smartphone or tablet. It’s also more effective than a traditional police radio, Snyder said, since the app alerts both on- and off-duty officers in the affected area.Using a push-button notification system to inform authorities of an emergency situation has cropped up in the past. However, many of these are intended for personal safety, such as walking home alone at night. SchoolGuard was designed specifically for use in school settings.
Schools have to pay a one-time activation fee of $2,500 on top of a $99 per month service charge for the notification system. The app itself is free for download with an activation code provided by school districts and works on both Android- and iOS-powered devices.