PrePlanLive and the Recommendations of the Michigan School Safety Task Force 

 February 6, 2019

By  Craig LaPine

The concept that has evolved into what PrePlanLive is today was initially developed in mid-2017.  Our team – comprised of parents, LEOs, fire fighters, medical professionals, veterans, and educators – realized that a series of critical gaps existed in the school safety and security realm, namely that:  (1) there were limited mechanisms for establishing direct connections between schools and first responders; (2) pre-incident planning data/information, where it does exist, is separated into ‘silos’ (schools know what they know, police know what they know, and fire fighters know what they know – but none of those knowledge bases ‘talk’ to one another); (3) preparedness information was not accessible (hard-copy binders and the ‘thumb drive approach’ were the norm); and (4) districts did not have an effective means for gaining an objective understanding of their security program – and how to plan for improvements and enhancements.

With this realization, we committed to developing a comprehensive Security and Vulnerability Assessment that schools could use as a driver for implementing district-wide safety improvements/enhancements.  Concurrently we developed our Emergency Preparedness/Critical Incident Management application:  creating immersive and accessible Building Intelligence, establishing a direct connection between schools and first responders, and ensuring the critical information both schools and first responders MUST HAVE in an emergency incident are delivered IMMEDIATELY when an emergency is reported. 

Fast forward to April 2018, when the State of Michigan established a School Safety Task Force (SSTF) on the premise that “the possibility of a significant violent act occurring in our schools is reason enough to prepare for such an event in advance.”  The SSTF’s report, dated November 2018, provides 29 recommendations for improving safety and security in schools.  What we see in these recommendations is validation of PrePlanLive’s focus on the notion of a ‘safety and security ecosystem’ for schools.  Our multi-faceted approach to school safety and security addresses a number of the SSTF’s recommendations:

Security/Vulnerability Assessments that serve as a foundation for the development of a roadmap for implementing key changes immediately, while creating a ‘cost vs effectiveness’ plan for future improvements.  Our assessments delve into every aspect of a district’s security program – from policy and procedures, to physical security, to security technologies – and all things in between.  Built on nationally-recognized assessment tools, we’ve taken physical security assessments to the next level by incorporating an even broader set of data points, resulting in Security/Vulnerability Assessments that address much more than bricks and mortar, steel, and windows.  (Recommendations 1-3, 9, 12-19)

The PrePlanLive Emergency Preparedness/Critical Incident Management application acts as the ‘brains’ of a district’s safety and security ecosystem.  A secure, accessible, intuitive, and interoperable technology solution that provides what districts continue to ask for:  (1) remote access to security cameras for first responders; (2) mass notification tool connecting school staff, district administration, and first responders; (3) instant access to Emergency Response Plans; and (4) first responder access to immersive Building Intelligence that creates Enhanced Situational Awareness. (Recommendations 4-5, 8)

From the establishment of the SSTF – to their recommendations, legislation such as the STOP School Violence Act, and the drastic increases in spending on school safety and security across the nation – we see a distinct move towards some modicum of standardization in safety and security practices and funding; however, the following remains true:

Approximately 20% of the total cost for the construction of new schools is the result of fire code and life safety requirements (fire alarms, fire suppression systems, and fire extinguishers) – despite the fact that catastrophic fires (total facility loss and/or fatalities) in schools are exceptionally rare.  To date, there are no requirements – or even nationally accepted standards – for school safety and security.

At PrePlanLive we endeavor to increase standardization/interoperability, identify and remediate critical gaps, and foster both schools and first responders to PLAN and ACT with confidence.

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Craig LaPine
Craig LaPine