As I sit down to write the first installment of this dialogue we at PrePlanLive intend to have about how to improve the safety of our communities’ most vulnerable locations, I do so from the perspective of a parent who should have peace of mind every morning when my children head off to school. But the reality is that, while our schools are constantly improving how they keep our children safe, there is a disconcerting trend emerging that demonstrates a need for our schools and municipalities to do more. Recent events lead to the conclusion that more proactive measures must be taken, that reactive and passive response must be replaced with preemptive strategies – strategies based on the presumption that the worst-case scenario will happen.

The way we view and approach school security solutions was irrevocably changed on April 20, 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold perpetrated one of the most recognizable and appalling acts of violence to occur in a U.S. school. These solutions have been forced to evolve even further as the threat environment in and around our schools, and other so-called “soft targets” has changed – from Sandy Hook to Virginia Tech to Rancho Tehama Reserve. So the question becomes “what more can we do to protect our children?”

Law enforcement response protocols have changed drastically in response to the emergence of the “active shooter,” and a significant percentage of America’s schools now employ a range of active and passive security measures, including: access controls, security cameras, and lockdown devices. Commensurate emergency preparedness planning has become commonplace, but such planning continues down an analog path, despite the technology available to create comprehensive and immersive planning and response tools. The overall lack of enhanced situational awareness deprives planners and responders alike of the ability to plan with true strategic awareness and act with in-depth tactical advantage.

Enter PrePlanLive – a robust, scalable, and immersive emergency planning and response solution that incorporates traditionally used data (e.g., 2 dimensional floor plans, written procedures, etc.) into a 21st Century platform – readily accessible by school administrators and staff as well as first responders – that leverages 3 dimensional modeling technology, unmanned aerial systems, and industry-leading technical acumen. The resulting product enables planners and responders to virtually walk-through, explore, and gain Enhanced Situational Awareness of a given building from any web-connected device. In an environment where every second matters, PrePlanLive will augment planning capabilities and give administrators and staff a superior understanding of what they need to do, how they need to do it, and where they need to go in the event of a crisis. Law enforcement and first responders will gain immediate tactical advantage – the information and situational awareness they need will be accessible – leading to decreased response times and an unmatched ability to keep our children safe.

None of this is intended to detract from the hard work currently being done in schools across the country. These thoughts are offered to (a) begin a much-needed dialogue and (b) demonstrate the fact that enhanced planning is the key to being prepared for the worst-case scenario. This was illustrated in late 2017, when the quick actions of teachers at Rancho Tehama Reserve prevented an active shooter from gaining access to their school – and their students. Lives were undoubtedly saved because of planning, education, and training. If we can expound upon that same planning, education, and training – isn’t it our responsibility to do so?