New Alert System Raises The Bar On School Safety

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Parents. School officials. Emergency responders. With thousands of people to notify in the event of an emergency, how would your children’s school district handle the situation?

A school district in Klein, Texas, isn’t waiting for a crisis to occur to see how it fares. Thanks to funds through grants and private sponsorship, the 39,000 students and 35 schools that make up the Klein Independent School District, one of the nation’s largest school systems, is trying out a state-of-the-art alert system during the 2005-06 school year.

Developed by TechRadium Inc., the Immediate Response Information System, also known as IRIS, is a high-speed notification and response service that sends messages to thousands of people in seconds. It was designed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in response to a demand for more efficient ways to notify people in case of emergency.

To operate the system, a designated staff member sends out a message using a phone or Internet-connected computer. IRIS then transmits voice and text alerts to electronic devices, including home and cell phones, e-mail accounts, pagers, PDAs and fax machines. To ensure that the message was received, IRIS confirms completion and redials all missed contacts. Messages can be sent in one of 10 languages.

The system is valuable in sending emergency messages as well as routine school announcements. It requires no hardware, software or system installation for setup, making it a cost-effective way for parents and other community members to stay connected with their local schools.

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