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CUMBERLAND – A new emergency notification system will be installed in town and school buildings as part of a shared project to enhance public safety in town, say officials.
A Town Council resolution that was on the docket for Wednesday, Dec. 15, was to authorize Mayor Jeff Mutter to enter a contract with Raptor Technologies to outfit K-12 schools and municipal buildings with the emergency notification system for the next three years, at a cost of up to $52,800.
The way it works, said Supt. Philip Thornton, who was planning to present the technology to the council and a school safety committee this week, is to use an app to improve response times to such events as a medical emergency, active shooter, or other crisis.
Where 911 calls would normally just be routed to Scituate State Police Headquarters and then back to the police desk in Cumberland, those notifications will now go straight to the cell phones of school and town staff members who have the app installed on their phones, said Thornton. Anyone who signs up for the application, from the custodian to the principal, would be alerted immediately, he said, with information texted directly during such events as a lockdown. There will be two-way communication between public safety employees and employees in town and school buildings.
Parents wouldn’t have access to the app, but officials could potentially alert the public to disruptive events much more quickly with this technology in place, said Thornton.
With the Raptor technology, officials can also draw geo-fence outlines around parking lots, so any incidents around the schools would also activate the app and employees would be able to pinpoint where it is.
Cumberland is unique in the area in that the schools are looking to share the technology with the town side for municipal buildings, said Thornton.
This is all part of a nationwide trend, he said, following the lead of Alyssa’s Law in Florida where silent panic alarms and electronic links between schools and law enforcement are required. The law is named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old student killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting of 2018.
Officials love the Raptor program because it’s customizable and has capacity to add functionality, said Thornton. It’s a great company with fantastic customer support, he said, and leaders are planning a very thoughtful rollout of the program.
Thornton said he still needs to get together with Mayor Jeff Mutter to discuss exactly how it will be financed, but said the cost is minimal and not a major concern. This is a great tool to have in adding one more piece to the public safety puzzle at all public buildings in town, including the Cumberland Library, Town Hall, Senior Center and others, he said.
Essentially this initiative is “all about response time in any kind of crisis,” said Thornton. Leaders have gone through multiple rounds of interviews with Raptor representatives since August before settling on that company.
This app is “tech agnostic,” said Thornton, able to used on all sorts of devices.
“It’s exciting, it’s one more step in trying to improve what we do around safety,” he said.
Mutter echoed Thornton in saying this is part of an overall strategy to be proactive on safety instead of reactive. It benefits residents to get emergency information out more quickly and with more specificity, he said, and there are also other features that could be used to report suspicious activity or behavioral concerns.
“You hope that you never have to use that feature, but if you do, then we want to be prepared,” he said.
Public safety and EMS workers in Cumberland are always about being prepared for the worst, said Mutter, as they were with the arrival of COVID.
This program went through a thorough procurement process with safety officials and school leaders, he said, with several bidders interviewed.