Keeping Students and Staff Safe at Round Rock ISD

Round Rock Independent School District Relies on Avaya and iNEMSOFT to Keep Students and Staff Safe

Demand has increased in recent years for effective and integrated solutions for real-time mass notifications at schools, largely driven by the threat of natural disasters and active shooters. Research shows that 63% of schools are most concerned with the inability to notify every in-building person (student, faculty, staff member, and visitor) in the case of an emergency. Round Rock Independent School District (ISD) shares these concerns and is taking action with the help of Avaya and its partners. The school district comprises the city of Round Rock and several Texas counties with 55 school buildings: seven high schools, 11 middle schools, 34 elementary schools, and three alternative learning centers. The area covers 110 square miles, encompassing high tech manufacturing and urban retail centers, suburban neighborhoods, and farm and ranch land.

Round Rock ISD was looking to implement a mass notification system specifically for active shooter and weather-related threats (Texas is considered the “tornado capital” of the U.S.). The solution had to seamlessly interoperate with other administrative systems to ensure there would be no bottlenecks– critical for emergency planning and execution. The school district also needed to maintain privacy and security while engaging all in-building persons anywhere, anytime, across all communication channels and devices. After evaluating several competitive offers, Round Rock selected Avaya Cloud Notification Service enabled by Avaya OneCloud™CPaaS, for its flexibility, customization, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

What we value most about the system is its flexibility,” said Yarbrough.The system is platform-agnostic and is also flexible from a financial standpoint.Every school district is different when it comes to funds, and so that was a greatthing for us to be able to adopt the system with the financial setup we had.”

—District Police Chief, Jeffrey Yarbroughavaya.com © 2021 Avaya Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Avaya Difference

The district evaluated other potential solutions but would have to bring in multiple system servers to achieve what the school district wanted. Avaya was able to offer one seamless, integrated emergency notification system supporting multiple channels, with notifications going to any Internet-connected device. The solution, enhanced by Avaya’s extensive ecosystem of partners, offers three main forms of alerts: outdoor (paging speakers, UHF radios), indoor (PA speakers, message boards, desktop phones), and personal (smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers via text/SMS, pop-ups, email, and RSS social media). The calling and SMS services are enabled by Avaya OneCloud™CPaaS.

Round Rock ISD was unique in that it did not have a dedicated police force; however, that changed and now its district-dedicated force is responsible for protecting and serving the district’s nearly 57,000 students and staff members. The Avaya Cloud Notification Service controller is located at the Round Rock ISD police station, where District Police Chief, Jeffrey Yarbrough, and his officers manage notifications. The system can be controlled so that notifications are sent only to specific schools (ex: if an active shooter is present at just one building) or to all schools (ex: if a natural disaster is projected to threaten the area).

The iNEMSOFT Advantage

“Being able to connect our UHF radios was a significant advantage,” Yarbrough explained. Avaya DevConnect partner iNEMSOFT was able to deploy its ClassOne® Radio Gateways utilizing the district’s existing Avaya infrastructure, essentially making the UHF radio act like an Avaya SIP telephony endpoint. This would ensure teachers or staff could receive notifications even if their cellphones aren’t working or they don’t have cellphones with them at the time of an emergency.

The SIP-based radio gateway provides the control interface for various types of radios over IP/SIP protocol, including UHF/VHF, narrowband, digital 700/800 MHz, Tetra, and P25 radios. The INEMSOFT radio gateway unifies land-based mobile radio channels (LMR) with the overall Avaya enterprise voice communications fabric – enabling mission-critical interoperability, unified communications, and collaboration. The solution additionally provides for radio-based dialing to a phone user and routing radio audio to recording systems.

Looking Ahead

Before Avaya Cloud Notification Service, Round Rock ISD had no way of notifying in- building persons about an active shooter or other critical threats. Now, the district is fully equipped to instantaneously send alerts to keep students, faculty, staff members, and visitors protected and safe. The district may also explore possibilities with the mass notification system outside of emergency threat situations. For example, these notifications can be used for anything from bus schedule changes to non-emergency delay and early dismissal notices to keep students, teachers, staff, and parents aligned with developing changes.For more information on Avaya OneCloud CPaaS, please visit avaya.com.

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