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Emergency Communications Help Keep Kent School Safe

Desigo Mass Notification System helps Kent School reach all students across its 1,200-acre campus.

Kent School offers an idyllic setting along the Housatonic River in western Connecticut – and a challenge.

It takes the right solution to immediately reach all students and faculty during an emergency, when they might be anywhere across the 1,200-acre site that includes six dormitories, 10 instructional buildings, and a wide range of athletic and recreational facilities.

“Everybody knows the first three to five minutes are the most important in an emergency,” explains Joe Wolinski, Kent’s Facilities Director. “When you’re on a campus spread out like this, you have to have a way of communicating.”

The extensive campus is one of the biggest attractions for the college preparatory school founded in 1906. Students enjoy an equestrian center, a boathouse, and over 10 miles of biking and cross-country trails.

Total enrollment for the co-ed institution is 570, with 520 living on campus. Keeping students safe and secure around the clock is a top priority for the school and for parents.

Kent School turned to Siemens for innovative technologies that have increased safety and emergency preparedness across its campus.

The Siemens solution combined a new mass notification backbone with an intelligent fire system, allowing the school to quickly reach students in an emergency and provide clear direction based on event-specific plans.

“Siemens proved to be a true business partner in working with us to understand our concerns, to understand the issues we’re trying to address, to look at the day-to-day activity that happens on campus and the technology that would integrate well,” says Jeff Cataldo, Kent’s Chief Financial Officer.

The Building Technologies division of Siemens Industry had the expertise, technology, and resources needed to implement the right solution, according to school officials. Siemens provided insight and mapped a solution tailored to Kent’s specific needs that incorporates the company’s Desigo® Mass Notification System (MNS) and Desigo Fire Safety Intelligent Voice Communication fire detection panels. Desigo MNS leverages the latest communication platforms to ensure emergency notifications reach the intended audience, wherever they are.

The system communicates across both networked systems, such as computers and speakers, and personal devices, such as cell phones and laptops. Its ability to provide extensive coverage is an important capability, especially for a campus as large as Kent’s. In an emergency, Desigo MNS reacts across various Siemens and third-party devices, ensuring students across campus receive the intended message:

  • Desktop alerts are sent to all computers linked to the school’s IP network
  • Emails are sent to all current faculty, students, and parents
  • Text messages are also sent to all faculty, students, and parents, as well as a resident state trooper
  • Messages are communicated through IP-networked loudspeakers that Siemens installed throughout campus
  • Desigo Intelligent Voice Communication fire panels broadcast messages throughout all facilities

A key feature of Desigo MNS is its “easy button” functionality. Kent can pre-set procedures and messages for different scenarios, such as weather or an intruder on campus.

In an emergency, any number of school officials can engage Desigo MNS for a specific scenario, either from the command center or remotely. Desigo MNS also offers on-the-fly capabilities that allow officials to create and broadcast live emergency messages via their cell phones.

“Being able to program it to what we need is huge,” says Kent’s Safety Director, Brian Hunt, when describing the advantage of the system. “So is the portability; wherever I have my laptop or mobile, I know I have Desigo with me.”

With Desigo MNS, Kent is better prepared, able to reach students, faculty, and staff more quickly and effectively in an emergency, as proven in recent drills. Just as important, the system is giving confidence and peace of mind to school officials and parents.

“The speed of our ability to alert people quickly and easily has made everybody relax a little bit,” says Kent’s Dean of Students, Cathe Mazza. “We’re not worrying when there’s a storm coming and kids are in 50 million different directions. We know that we can reach them all.”

Siemens Desigo

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