Florida Schools Get Online Security and Safety Assessment Tool

District administrators in Florida will soon have a new online resource to help them understand the nature of potential and real safety and security issues their schools face. The state department of education will launch the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool (FSSAT) for managing safety assessments in 6,000 public and charter schools. Previously, these assessments were paper-based.

The new system was developed by Haystax Technology, a company that creates situational awareness software that integrates data analytics. The project began in response to a 2013 education appropriations requirement from the Florida Legislature to "contract with a security consulting firm to provide a risk assessment tool for conducting security assessments for use by school officials at each public school site in the state." Such a tool, the legislation stipulated, should "help school officials...identify threats, vulnerabilities and appropriate safety controls for the schools that they supervise." Features include:

  • School emergency and crisis preparedness planning;
  • Security, crime and violence prevention policies and procedures;
  • Physical security measures;
  • Professional development training needs;
  • An examination of support service roles in school safety, security and emergency planning;
  • School security and school police staffing and operational practices;
  • School-community collaboration on school safety; and
  • Return on investment analysis of the recommended physical security controls.

Access to the system will be given to authorized users from the department of education and other agencies as well as district personnel via a secure online portal.

According to Haystax CEO William Van Vleet, the system is designed to highlight the individual safety and security issues facing each school, "as well as to allow district and state officials to develop a broader understanding of the threats and risks confronting all schools in their areas of responsibility."

FSSAT will also be used by schools to store emergency plans, blueprints, contact details and photos in a repository to give emergency responders efficient access to that information during an incident.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.