How an app can help police, teachers work together in emergency situations

WORCESTER, Mass. – The one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting has districts everywhere continuing to tighten security.

In Force 911 is a computer software app that connects people in harm’s way with people trying to help them.  Many school districts in Massachusetts are now using the system, which allows teachers and staff a way to talk directly to the responding police officers. It also gives police a way to tap into cameras before they get to the scene.

“We empower teachers, faculty, and staff inside a school building the means to launch an alert,” said In Force Technology CEO Brandon Flanagan.

A teacher or staffer can use the In Force 911 app on their phone to first alert police, then start relaying critical information right to the first responders.

Using the software, people can also tap into the school’s camera system and get eyes on the issue before they even get there. In Force also sends police the school’s floor plan and layout.

“And to secondly bridge the communications gap which we know exists between the point of contact inside the school building back court to the first responder community,” said Flanagan.

School safety officials say it took five minutes for the shooter to kill 17 people and hurt more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

“And everybody who is on that application in the school building can text one another as well,” said Worcester School Safety Director Robert Pezzella.

Worcester Public Schools just started using In Force 911, as well as other safety technology and training, to increase everyone’s chances in an attack. Worcester Police and dispatchers can also use the program to deal with other potential safety issues by sending reverse alerts.

“For instance, there is a bank robbery, someone running through the neighborhoods at a nearby school. A reverse alert would come to let that school know to keep your kids in the building,” said Pezzella.

Worcester is using the software in all of the high school and middle schools and they are already phasing into the elementary schools.