‘Active shooter’ alert app cre­ated

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Jor­dan Grice Jor­[email protected]­medi­act.com

Four Yale Univer­sity stu­dents cre­ated a mo­bile app that lets school fac­ulty re­spond al­most in­stantly to an active shoot­ing in­ci­dent us­ing their phones to connect with stu­dents and first re­spon­ders.

It took 3 1⁄2 min­utes for fac­ulty and stu­dents at the Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla., to learn there was an active shooter in their school.

Four Yale Univer­sity stu­dents feel their mo­bile alert app can dras­ti­cally re­duce re­sponse time dur­ing sim­i­lar emer­gen­cies.

“We re­al­ized there that schools re­ally have a com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lem in­ter­nally, but also ex­ter­nally,” said Michael Chime, who de­vel­oped the app Pre­pared with class­mates Daniel James, Neal Soni and Dy­lan Gle­icher to alert stu­dents and fac­ulty mem­bers dur­ing school shoot­ings.

In­ter­na­tional re­ports de­scribed 2018 as the worst year in the United States for gun vi­o­lence in schools, and the Park­land shoot­ing was at the cen­ter of it. Data from Ed­u­ca­tion Week, a jour­nal cov­er­ing ed­u­ca­tion in the U.S., found that there were 24 school shoot­ings that re­sulted in 114 in­juries or deaths.

The mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion lets fac­ulty re­spond al­most in­stantly to an active shoot­ing in­ci­dent us­ing their phones to connect with stu­dents and first re­spon­ders.

Chime said most of the fea­tures on the app are the re­sult of feed­back from lo­cal schools, and a case study he and his team con­ducted on the Park­land school shoot­ing.

Approved users can send a lock­down no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the en­tire school and lo­cal law en­force­ment through the pro­gram by press­ing and hold­ing an “active shooter” but­ton for three sec­onds, which sends out an Am­ber alert-style mes­sage.

The pro­gram also lets users pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on the emer­gency through a mes­sag­ing fea­ture, in­clud­ing lo­ca­tion and de­scrip­tion of the sus­pected shooter.

“That stream­lined re­sponse will be com­mu­ni­cated with the au­thor­i­ties at the press of a but­ton,” Chime said, tout­ing a 15-sec­ond alert time.

A newly added fea­ture also no­ti­fies school district of­fi­cials, who can then can send emer­gency mes­sages to nearby schools.

“We’re able to en­sure that the se­cu­rity of the schools sur­round­ing (the emer­gency) are in thought as well,” Chime said.

The app has al­ready re­ceived a fa­vor­able review at Yale, ac­cord­ing to Chime, who said the univer­sity has in­vested roughly $40,000 into the startup, in­clud­ing the Miller Prize for $25,000.

The quar­tet will also spend their sum­mer in an ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gram where they will con­tinue to de­velop the ap­pli­ca­tion and work with school dis­tricts na­tion­wide to im­ple­ment it.

They’ve reached out to school dis­tricts in Con­necti­cut and other states, in­clud­ing Louisiana and Ohio, where James and Chime are from, re­spec­tively.

Chime said they’ve been in contact with lo­cal law en­force­ment as well.

An­other app developer said he saw the un­der­grad­u­ates’ startup as a valu­able tool for the school sys­tem.

“I think that’s potentiall­y pow­er­ful for sure,” said Ben Berkowitz, CEO and founder of SeeClick­Fix, a New Haven­based web and mo­bile plat­form that al­lows users to com­mu­ni­cate with lo­cal gov­ern­ment about pub­lic works is­sues.

His com­pany, which has been around for a decade, has about 350 city part­ners that use the ap­pli­ca­tion and web­site as a pri­mary means of tak­ing pub­lic ser­vice re­quests about pot­holes, graffiti or il­le­gal dump­ing.

Con­trib­uted photo

From left, Yale Univer­sity stu­dents Michael Chime, Neal Soni, Dy­lan Gle­icher and Daniel James; co-founders of Pre­pared, a mo­bile alert ap­pli­ca­tion for school shoot­ings.

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