1 University of Alabama in Huntsville (UNITED STATES)
2 Clausthal University of Technology, Institute of Applied Stochastics and Operations (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 1133-1142
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.0268
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
This paper presents the Systems Management and Production (SMAP) Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) activities in making school safety affordable. SMAP is applying technology and commonsense to protect students, faculty and staff with a focus on economically challenged school systems.

Specific areas of emphasis have been:
1) retrofitting classrooms,
2) monitoring parking lots,
3) improving safety planning and
4) minimizing the risk of infectious diseases.

The retrofitting projects consisted of:
1) panoramic photography,
2) verification and improvement of room number identification,
3) classroom door buzzers/alarms,
4) smart lightbulbs and
5) improved classroom locks.

The parking lot projects included layout improvements and a tag recognition system. The safety planning projects were the establishment of a school safety hotline, handheld metal detectors and a system-wide mass casualty simulation. To minimize the risk of infectious diseases, SMAP worked with local tech schools to produce face shields and other personal protection equipment (PPE) for faculty, staff and students. While many of the projects covered the Jackson County (Alabama) School System (JCSS), several were only implemented at one testbed location, that being Skyline School within the JCSS. The results of this research are being made available through SMAP’s Model Exchange & Development of Nursing & Engineering Technology (MEDNET). MEDNET links K-12 schools, technical schools and medical facilities in the region to the resources available from the UAH College of Nursing and SMAP.

In summary the following conclusions are made:
1) school safety can be improved at an affordable cost. In order to do so, technologies such as 3D printing, computer vision, and robotics can be used;
2) commonsense solutions to school safety exist. The key is to begin a dialogue between administrators, teachers and students. Easy, no-cost solutions exist in almost any school;
3) improved planning is extremely important in determining how to respond, but methods to prevent rather than respond to an active shooter can be even more critical;
4) surveillance of the classroom, building facilities and the parking lot can serve as a deterrent to school violence;
5) involvement of the community – the school, law enforcement, health care organizations, EMS and others – through training and joint meetings is a low-cost activity with big payoffs;
6) safety of students must look at both acts of violence and other threats – to include infectious diseases. Included in this paper are a detailed description and implementation of each project, MEDNET, cost of each project and conclusions.
School safety, retrofitting classrooms, school preparedness.