Motorola’s latest education survey offers a compelling look at the evolving state of communications in U.S. school districts. The findings underscore the criticality of connectivity. Educators want to extend the reach of their two-way radios to connect directly to school personnel on any device and any network, anywhere they go.
This year, 902 educators weighed in on pressing issues concerning school safety, emergency preparedness and stronger communications. Survey participants represented almost every department in K-12 schools, including teachers, administrators, telecommunications and IT, transportation, facilities and operations, maintenance, athletics, office staff, and safety and security.
A Lack of Connectivity in Schools
For many schools, the only way to connect across the district is by Internet, email or phone and to connect to law enforcement, fire service and EMS is by calling 9-1-1. As a school superintendent in Ohio points out, “In an emergency, we had to relay everything through the voice of one caller to public safety. It was inefficient at best and inaccurate at worst because of incomplete information and first responders not knowing what was going on.”
This sentiment about connectivity with school safety is echoed by almost 60 percent of survey respondents who want to talk directly to first responders heading to a scene. Instead of information passing through multiple parties or being incomplete, everyone is on the same channel as an incident unfolds. This continuous exchange of information is key to effective emergency response, when seconds matter most.
74% of Bus Drivers are Using Two Way Radios to Communicate
Of those surveyed who have their own district-wide communication system, 74 percent rely on twoway radios to connect schools and bus drivers. Two-way radios are approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for drivers of commercial motor vehicles to communicate on the road.
Twenty percent of school bus drivers use cell phones, unchanged from our 2013 Education Survey. While 60 percent of educators were aware of the DOT restrictions on the use of cell phones by bus drivers, 40 percent were not.
New Solutions are Being Made Just for Schools
SchoolSAFE by Motorola connects school two-way radios directly and securely with the radios used by first responders. School personnel are linked to local police, fire, EMS and 9-1-1 call centers for reliable, secure, two-way communication during a crisis.
SchoolSAFE is a comprehensive program that includes software, hardware and training. More importantly, it fosters teamwork between school administrators and first responders. SchoolSAFE enables them to develop plans and practice drills together and ensure they are SchoolSAFE-certified for emergency readiness levels each year.
The Benefits of Real Time Communication
Once the SchoolSAFE public safety bridge is activated, school personnel use their MOTOTRBO radios to talk directly with 9-1-1 dispatchers and first responders heading to the scene. Instead of information passing through multiple parties or being incomplete, everyone is on the same channel as an incident unfolds.
“We had a middle school student who had a seizure during class, with no prior history,” recalls a teacher from Chardon School District. “Because our teacher was trained on the new system, she talked to EMTs before they even arrived, and the situation was handled successfully.”