Texas District Chooses Cloud System To Stay on Top of School Safety

A Texas school district with 25,300 students has adopted a new cloud-based application designed to provide an all-around view of security. McAllen Independent School District, located just north of the United States-Mexico border, will be introducing Haystax School Safety Center from Haystax Technology.

The software is an online program for maintaining school safety data, such as emergency plans and contact information; reporting threats and tracking events; and keeping up with potential threats through news, public safety and social media channels. In a statement, the company said the program costs the district about $2 per year per student, a total of about $50,000 per year.

Authorized people within the district will have access to the information maintained by Haystax, including McAllen's school police department.

"I don't just want to control a crisis; I want to get ahead of it," said Cris Esquivel, chief of the district's police department. "When we're in an emergency situation we have to be able to both receive and disseminate accurate information without delay to the responding officers, parents, district leaders and the broader community. The School Safety Center is my source for that information."

Among the features of the program are:

  • A "threat streams module," which pulls and analyzes information feeds from news sources and Twitter and then supplies users with "flash" alerts when a threat is identified;
  • The ability for police officers and other school staff to report suspicious activity or incidents, transmit geo-coded photos and disseminate threat and crime information to a broader group; and
  • Modules for maintaining data about school assets and online safety assessments, including information about school facilities and key personnel.

Esquivel noted that he has seen comparable capabilities before, "but they have always been separate stand-alone tools. What I like about the School Safety Center is that everything is in one place."

The Haystax School Safety Center is also in use by the Florida Department of Education.

About the Author

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