Technology has undoubtedly become an integral part of our school systems, and security is no exception. Corona del Mar High School (CdM) recently implemented the security app Titan HST into the school’s security program, connecting students, teachers, administrators, parents, and police officers with just the touch of a button. The app, created by CdM alumnus Vic Merjanian, allows users to “use each other as their best defense,” said Samantha Payne, English teacher and supervisor of Titan for Corona del Mar.
The app allows users to report an incident directly from their smartphones. There are six types of emergencies to choose from: weather, a fight on campus, a medical emergency, a weapon on campus, drug use, and a stranger on campus. Though anyone can report an emergency, an alert is only seen by administrators, including Officer Clemente, the resource officer on campus. Administrators then look into the incident and verify whether there is a real threat to students without causing a panic by notifying everyone on campus.
Whenever a student sends an alert, their location is sent to administrators. This allows faculty members to reach the site of the emergency as soon as possible. However, all users are tracked whenever they are on campus, making it easier for faculty members to know the location of any student in case of an emergency. For privacy reasons, the GPS feature of the app turns off whenever the user leaves campus.
Another notable feature is the lockdown option, available only to administrators and faculty members. This feature, used only when there is a confirmed schoolwide emergency, immediately puts the school into lockdown mode and notifies all users that they should follow the necessary procedures. According to Payne, the lockdown feature “is an easy way to allow everyone to communicate quickly if there is a chaotic situation.”
Faculty members can also send out “broadcasts” to everyone who has the app during non-emergency situations, like earthquake drills. In broadcasts, staff members can explain the situation and notify students of what they should be doing. Users receive broadcasts in the same way they receive text messages and are able to respond or ask questions to everyone at once, as though it were a giant group chat.
Faculty members can also choose their target audience for their broadcast. For example, if an administrator wants to make sure that students know what to do in an emergency situation, they can report an intruder on campus by sending out a broadcast exclusively to students, notifying them of the actions they should be taking without telling them it is a drill. The admin can also send out a separate broadcast to parents, informing them that the intruder alert is just a drill and their children are not in danger.
CdM has been fortunate enough to receive a free trial of the app. This was partially because Merjanian, owner and CEO of Titan Health & Security Technologies Inc., graduated from CdM in 2003. Merjanian is allowing the school to pilot the app for free. Fellow CdM alum Danny Turner is also a part of the Titan family.
According to Payne, approximately half the school is using Titan, with many more expected to sign up when there is another opportunity at the end of the semester. Students must have their parents sign a permission slip if they want to sign up.
Though Titan is one of the first companies of its kind, school security is becoming increasingly dependent on technology nationwide. Employees of Titan and other security systems are working hard to create and improve these systems to make schools safer. These initiatives could not have come at a better time with the number of school shootings that have taken place nationwide. Schools are constantly looking for new ways to further protect their students, and Titan provides an easy, user-friendly way to do just that.
“I do think this is where school security is headed in the long run,” said Payne. “Programs like Titan are much more efficient in protecting our schools.”