Nationwide School Violence Prompts Increased Security Measures
This school district, located in a northwestern suburb of Chicago, serves approximately 2,200 students from seven neighboring communities across a 36-square-mile area. The district is highly regarded for its commitment to continuous quality improvement and transparency in communication regarding school performance. In addition, they aim to provide a safe learning environment that prepares students for the future.
After a series of school violence incidents nationwide, the district’s Director of Business Services implemented measures to increase campus security and promote safety for students and school personnel. As a result, they sought out a more reliable solution than their previous push-to-talk cellular system.
Upon discovering the MOTOTRBO digital two-way radio system and Teldio Telephone Interconnect Application, the district improved real-time communication and direct access to 9-1-1 dispatchers, ultimately enhancing school safety.
The Challenge | Connecting A Rural Community
Replace Push-to-Talk Cellular with Reliable Radio
Located in a semi-rural area of Illinois, the school district is somewhat secluded due to its proximity to a forest preserve. According to the Director of Business Services, the cellular coverage in certain parts of the school buildings could be better. He said, “Our cell signal was weak and didn’t reach the lower levels of our schools where necessary, like the cafeteria, storage, and mechanical rooms. Moreover, our cell coverage was undependable and eventually ceased supporting our push-to-talk (PTT) network, undermining the redundancy we desired in a communication system.”
Increase School Safety with Real-Time Communications
A combination of factors, including the lack of coverage in some school areas, inconsistent cell reception, and an upcoming renewal cycle with the carrier, prompted the school district to search for a reliable communication solution. The Director of Business Services, who had previously been in the military, was familiar with the numerous benefits of two-way radios. He recognized that a digital radio network’s coverage, clarity, reliability, and redundancy were unparalleled. “We acknowledged the need for a dependable, always-available communication system. Particularly after recent school shootings, we were seeking a more robust security solution for our schools, and two-way radio was the answer,” he explained.
Connect Radios Directly to 9-1-1 Call Centers
The school district aimed to maintain a direct line of communication with the 9-1-1 call center in their area, whether for a common sports injury requiring medical attention or an unusual event, such as a missing student, that triggers a countywide alert. “One of the challenges for us from an EMS and law enforcement standpoint is our isolated location. It might take 10 minutes for a deputy sheriff or 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. We wanted to shorten that response time by enabling our people to talk directly to dispatchers in an emergency instead of being relayed through an office. This capability was critical.”
The Solution | MOTOTRBO Reduced Costs and Increased Reliability
MOTOTRBO Responds with No Recurring Costs
The Director of Business Services, referred by another district, reached out to a local Motorola Solutions channel partner to address the challenges faced by their school district. Along with cellular coverage issues, they were experiencing all the drawbacks of relying on the cellular system and carrier. The district emphasized the importance of enhancing reliability and security in their schools. With the increasing number of school incidents, they were searching for a superior safety solution, and MOTOTRBO was the answer. The ability to directly call 9-1-1 through cellular was extremely crucial.
Although cellular communication provides instant communication like two-way radios, it is not private, unlike radios, which have built-in redundancies, coverage, and all-call capabilities. In addition, cellular communication is expensive, with recurring monthly expenses. MOTOTRBO, on the other hand, is a one-time investment that pays for itself in just a few years. It provides one-to-many communication with the added advantage of making a 911 call during an emergency.
Private Network is Always Available
“We needed robust communications that worked constantly,” explains the Director. “We wanted a system that was independent of cellular networks. In an emergency when hundreds of parents show up at the schools and saturate the phone network, we wanted it to function no matter what.” He also liked the zone capability of MOTOTRBO radios that enables schools to operate on their internal network, talking to each other on a common channel while still being reachable on a district-wide emergency channel. “It is like having our own private network and reducing overall conversational chatter,” he adds.
Call 9-1-1 Directly from the Radio
In combination with MOTOTRBO digital radios, the Teldio Telephone Interconnect Application was recommended to the district to allow radio users to make and receive phone calls directly on their radios.
The Teldio app goes beyond basic telephone interconnects by giving radio users access to familiar phone-like features, including dialing 9-1-1 directly from a MOTOTRBO radio. Designed to scale quickly, it was connected as an interchange directly into the district’s phone system. “This capability is important for all our personnel, but particularly for those outside monitoring playgrounds and sports activities and don’t have access to a landline in the building in an emergency.”
The Results | Increased Situational Awareness Throughout The District and Near-Immediate ROI
Faster Collaboration and Better Situational Awareness
Streamlining communications with MOTOTRBO group calling creates greater safety and efficiency. “In the past, if a student was injured or missing from a building, we couldn’t place group calls with cell phones. Now with the various radio zones, we can provide situational awareness to all the people responding at any time during the incident. That’s one of the key benefits of MOTOTRBO radios.”
Excellent Coverage and Clarity in Buildings and Beyond
Installing the MOTOTRBO repeater eliminated coverage problems and extended the range of communications. Now, MOTOTRBO radios connect the entire district, so the radios perform clearly and reliably from anywhere.
Additionally, MOTOTRBO radios have allowed schools to expand their learning spaces. For safety reasons, rooms unreachable by radio or cellular devices could not be used as classrooms. However, now lower-level rooms are within the range of the MOTOTRBO radios and, therefore, can be used as additional educational areas – an unexpected benefit. “The clarity and quality of MOTOTRBO are excellent, as is coverage inside our buildings. The ability of the radios to pick up a voice clearly and transmit it without background noise is excellent.”
Immediate 20 Percent Return on Investment
The district realized the cost-saving benefits of MOTOTRBO radio from the start. “We were spending thousands of dollars a year to have an outdated solution that was not working for us,” says the Director of Business Services. “The bill for that service was confusing and had constant add-on charges. It was an unwieldy mess that we didn’t have to manage anymore. Now we have a 20 percent return on investment for enhanced capabilities with MOTOTRBO. For us, the decision was a no-brainer.”
Increased Safety for Schools, and Interoperability with Public Safety
Today, MOTOTRBO radios are crucial to the district’s comprehensive security plan. Talking directly with 9-1-1 dispatchers enables them to shorten response time with first responders. The county is expected to switch to a statewide network soon, and thankfully, the MOTOTRBO is fully compatible with the new system.
“Our people are very confident having MOTOTRBO radios. I monitor them daily, and knowing that students are safe is a capability we didn’t have before. I can walk anywhere in the district and be instantly reached, which is an incredible benefit. We can all hear the same conversation simultaneously, be proactive and manage an incident. The situational awareness MOTOTRBO radios provide is critical for increasing our school safety.”
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