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Texas District Tries Alert Buttons To Improve Security

A Texas district is outfitting teachers and staff with a small alerting device they can press in the event of an emergency. Carroll Independent School District has gone public with plans to use eTrak Alert Buttons that send messages to pre-programmed recipients. When a wearer presses the device, it alerts recipients that help is needed and tells them where the incident is taking place.

"We're excited in Carroll ISD to be partnering with eTrak to improve communications and our emergency response time in the event of a school crisis," said Julie Thannum, assistant superintendent for board and community relations. "We believe the device is small enough to be worn comfortably and without much notice, while giving our employees a stronger sense of confidence that if they were to find themselves in a difficult or troublesome situation, they could reach out instantly for help."

The domino-shaped eTrak can also be programmed to notify other teachers and staff to take lockdown procedures. A battery keeps the device powered for up to seven days. It was originally created to help caretakers of people with special needs who are prone to wandering away. A tracking component within eTrak can be used to locate the person on an online map from a smartphone or computer.

The company sells the idea that the use of its device is speedier than more traditional notification systems. "The eTrak Emergency Alert system sends a notification within seconds of the first sign of danger. This time savings will provide a much faster response time from first responders, and thereby potentially [minimize] injuries to school employees and children," said CEO John Harris.

eTrak has traditionally marketed the product to parents through school parent-teacher associations. In those situations the company provides the device free and charges families an activation and monthly service fee for the program.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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