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    How Necedah Schools Reduced the Time to Lockdown by 50% with Rise Vision and InformaCast

    How Necedah Schools Reduced the Time to Lockdown by 50% with Rise Vision and InformaCast

    With the goal to enhance communication and ensure robust safety measures across its campus, Necedah Schools in central Wisconsin has strategically embraced digital signage technology to meet these critical needs. With a K-12 campus housing approximately 700 students, the district required a dynamic solution that could handle everything from daily announcements to critical emergency alerts. 

    This case study explores how Necedah Schools, under the guidance of Technology Director Kris Saylor, modernized its communication strategy and safety protocols through the implementation of Rise Vision, integrated with InformaCast from Singlewire Software for emergency communications.

    Meet Kris Saylor, Technology Director at Necedah Schools

    Kris Saylor serves as the Technology Director at Necedah Schools. With approximately 700 students, Necedah Schools operates under a unique structure with different wings for each educational level. Kris, who has a teaching background, has been with the district for 25 years and in his current role for four, managing everything from IT operations to the school's security protocols.

    The Challenge: Inefficient Emergency Communication

    Before adopting Rise Vision, Necedah Schools used a mix of basic tools and manual systems for communications and emergency alerts, which proved inefficient and ineffective. The district sought a solution that would integrate smoothly with their existing technologies, improve the speed and reach of their communications, especially during emergencies, and enhance overall student engagement at school events.

    The Solution: Multifunctional Digital Signage Software

    Necedah Schools_Hallway display

    In 2017, Tanya Kotlowski, the district’s new superintendent, brought with her new safety initiatives in parallel to the introduction of the Wisconsin Office of School Safety following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Leadership wanted a way to effectively disseminate mass communications and increase overall school safety.  

    Kris explored several digital signage solutions to find a system that offered both versatility during everyday use and emergency communication capabilities. Rise Vision was a good fit for what they were looking to accomplish because it was multifunctional.

    The school initiated a plan to decide where they wanted to put TVs around the school. Some key areas are in different hallways by restrooms and natural congregation points. Kris tied Rise Vision into their digital ecosystem, showed staff how to use it, and then in the background tied in the Informacast emergency alerts functionality.

    Almost 10 years later, and they haven’t looked back.

    Implementation and Impact of Rise Vision at Necedah Schools

    Implementing Rise Vision at Necedah Schools has resulted in significant and measurable improvements in both school safety protocols and student engagement. Both examples highlight the practical benefits of integrating digital solutions into schools.

    Enhanced Emergency Response with InformaCast

    Prior to implementing Rise Vision and Informacast, Necedah Schools relied on traditional PA systems for emergency communications. The process involved multiple steps: someone had to manually activate the PA, wait for a tone, and then make a verbal announcement. This method was not only slow, but also less effective in ensuring that all students and staff were promptly informed and could react accordingly.

    "Over 95% of the time our presentations control the screens, but in the event of an emergency notification we have InformaCast ready to take over the screen to provide relevant safety information. This functionality allows us to quickly lock down zones of our building or communicate things such as inclement weather with just a touch of a button on the InformaCast app." - Kris Saylor, Director of Technology at Necedah Schools

    Transition to Efficient, Visual Communication

    Recognizing the need for a swifter response, especially given that industry standards indicate a critical 30-second window from identifying an active shooter to potential incident escalation, Necedah Schools sought a more immediate solution. 

    With the integration of Rise Vision and Informacast, the district was able to significantly reduce emergency response times. Visual alerts could be triggered with just a couple of clicks and instantly displayed across the school's network of TVs. With the touch of a button, an emergency alert is disseminated across their loudspeakers, the displays, and through the classrooms on digital clocks

    This capability proved essential for quickly communicating lockdowns, holds, and other critical safety information - and the district’s goal of getting the farthest reach as quick as they can because time is of the essence.

    Previously, activating an emergency protocol was cumbersome and slow, taking up to 60 seconds to fully lock down the campus. With Rise Vision and Informacast, this process has been reduced to about 20 seconds, effectively decreasing lockdown times by over 50%. Kris explained, "The quick-click scenarios set up through Informacast allow for immediate action, significantly shortening the response time in critical situations."

    Kris also shared that when the emergency response is concluded, it’s quick and easy to return to learning and put out an all clear announcement. With the PA system and Informacast, Kris is able to just hit a button and the system says all clear. It quickly tells everybody it's safe instead of faculty having to go door to door and telling them.

    Importance of Visual Alerts in Modern School Settings

    Necedah Schools_Daily motivation

    Today, visual communication is increasingly crucial in ensuring safety, particularly in environments where auditory alerts may not suffice. Many students regularly wear headphones, and some have hearing impairments, making traditional sirens less effective.

    By displaying emergency alerts visually on digital signage throughout the campus, Necedah Schools ensures that all students, regardless of their auditory situation, receive timely and clear instructions. This method not only enhances safety but also inclusivity, making sure every student is aware and can follow necessary precautions during emergencies.

    Increased Student Participation in School Events

    Rise Vision has also played a pivotal role in increasing student participation in school events. By displaying vibrant, timely, and relevant content on digital signs throughout the campus, students are better informed and more engaged. Kris noted, "The visibility of event announcements and updates around the school has led to a noticeable increase in attendance at school activities, from sports events to prom."

    Digital signage ensures that the school can focus on what matters most: learning. Kris said, “A lot of communication stuff has improved tremendously and it's allowed us more time with kids learning in the classrooms now.”

    Tailoring Technology to Fit Specific Needs

    Kris shared some insight and advice for other directors of technology with their own digital signage and emergency alerts.

    "Rise Vision is the best digital signage solution we have seen. Not only can we share relevant, timely, and interactive informative communications, but we can include emergency notifications through its integration with Singlewire's Informacast." - Kris Saylor, Director of Technology at Necedah Schools

    Necedah Schools_Remain open to continuous learning

    Customization is Key

    Kris Saylor emphasizes the importance of customizing digital signage and emergency alert systems to meet the specific needs of different school environments. Recognizing that a K-12 building like his own, faces different challenges compared to a district with multiple campuses, Saylor advises other technology directors to thoroughly understand the capabilities of their systems, like Rise Vision and InformaCast, and adapt them accordingly. The goal is to ensure that the technology serves the school's unique requirements rather than applying a one-size-fits-all solution.

    Zoning for Effective Communication

    In Necedah Schools, the strategy involved zoning TVs to manage the content based on location and audience. For instance, with zones throughout the building, Kris is able to lock down the middle and high school without causing undue alarm in the elementary school. Each zone is managed by different users but the entire system can be taken over if need be.

    This approach prevents the spread of unnecessary panic among younger students while still maintaining a high level of preparedness.

    Autonomy in System Management

    Saylor stresses the importance of technology directors taking the initiative to learn and manage their systems independently. This autonomy allows them to tailor solutions that perfectly align with their operational needs and educational goals. By doing so, directors can implement a truly effective digital signage and emergency alert system that enhances safety and communication without compromising the school's atmosphere or disrupting the educational process.

    Key Takeaways

    For schools interested in improving their school’s communication or student safety, there are some lessons to be learned from Necedah Schools.

    • District-wide Communication: Necedah Schools has leveraged Rise Vision across all wings of their K-12 campus, ensuring consistent and effective communication that reaches every student and staff member. No matter how small the district, a consistent way to communicate with staff, students, and parents is important.
    • Rapid Emergency Alerts: The integration with Informacast has revolutionized the school's ability to swiftly broadcast critical alerts during emergencies, enhancing the safety and security of the school environment. Rise Vision and Informacast have decreased the school’s ability to lock down by more than 50%!
    • Boosted Engagement: The use of digital signage has directly contributed to increased student involvement in school activities, fostering a more vibrant and engaging school culture.

    Necedah Schools' use of Rise Vision not only meets their initial requirements for an efficient communication platform but also adds significant value to daily operations and safety protocols. As other schools look to improve their communication and safety measures, Necedah Schools serves as a compelling example of effective technology integration in an educational setting.

    Interested in how your school can use Rise Vision? Book a free demo today.

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