7 Acts of Community Policing Around The Holidays in 2017

community policing around the holidays


7 Acts of Community Policing Around The Holidays (So Far)

Written by Mary Kate McGrath

Published on December 15, 2017


The holidays are a time to give back. The season inspires people to contribute to their communities in the form of time, like a volunteering commitment, or resources, like a donation to an important charity or cause. This time of year also presents many opportunities for law enforcement professionals to connect with the neighborhoods they work in. Across the country, many local police departments have already invested in community policing initiatives to do just that. These programs give officers the chance to meet and communicate directly with citizens, and better understand and serve the neighborhoods in their community.

What is Community Policing?

What is community policing, and how can law enforcement participate during the holiday season? Community policing, or community-oriented policing, is a strategy that focuses on building trust between citizens and law enforcement through mutual understanding and collaboration. These programs are also meant to encourage partnerships between local police and first response teams, local government, non-profits and other organizations, small businesses, and most important of all, citizens. In towns and cities across the country, community policing is becoming a crucial common practice.

How Does Community Policing Help?

Community policing measures are helping law enforcement better manage safety in their communities, while enabling citizens to have a voice in public safety management. It helps ensure that communities are served by culturally-fluent cops who approach their work in a way that is empathetic and with the best interests of the people in mind. There are lots of ways for the community to participate, and these programs can help build key relations between law enforcement officials and the community.

The holidays, with toy drives, holiday gatherings, and increased time for community meetings, are the perfect time for law enforcement to get more in touch with neighborhoods they’ve sworn to keep safe. The season of giving is also an opportunity for local safety managers to provide much-needed assistance for more vulnerable communities.

Here are 7 real examples of community policing so far this holiday season:

1. Delivering Turkeys for Senior Citizens – Washington, DC

In Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Police Department delivered turkeys to J.W. King Senior Apartments in the Sixth District. Thanks to this community policing effort, those who might not have been able to go out for a traditional Thanksgiving meal had it brought to their door. It was also an opportunity for police to chat with local residents and hear their thoughts.

2. Thanksgiving Luncheon for Homeless Veterans – Miami, Florida

The Miami-Dade Association of Chiefs of Police held a Thanksgiving luncheon for homeless veterans at Marlins Stadium. This provided a chance for officers and other law enforcement to sit down with people from a vulnerable community and learn what they can better do to ensure their safety.

3. Kids Community Holiday Party – Norwalk, Connecticut

In Norwalk, Connecticut, the Community Services and Community Policing Unit plan and coordinate events for both children and adults. Their initiatives include a Coffee with a Cop program.

A highlight is surely their annual Children’s Holiday Party, which draws a crowd of over 150 kids and provides lunch and entertainment. The holidays can be an expensive time, and the event is meant to make the holidays more inclusive of the city’s more vulnerable families. The officers hand out gifts to every kid at the end of the party.

4. Toy Drive – St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

In St. Thomas, Ontario, police officers stood in for Santa to get gifts for families in need.

5. Thanksgiving Turkey Drive – East Brooklyn, New York

In Brooklyn, New York, police officers gave out up to 20 turkeys for families in need. It’s a great example of local law enforcement engaging with their community and giving back.

6. Spreading The Word With Santa – St. Cloud, Minnesota

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, a local officer took this funny picture with Santa to promote the cities ‘see something, say something’ policy. A safe and secure way to report suspicious activity is anonymous 2-Way Tip Texting.

7. The Santa Squad – Woods Cross, Utah

In Wood’s Cross, Utah, citizens can ship their holiday packages to the local police department if they’re worried about porch theft or inclement weather. It also creates an opportunity for local law enforcement to chat and connect with the community as they stop in to pick up their holiday packages.

Year Round Community Policing Initiatives

These acts of community policing were holiday-oriented. In addition to contributing to these seasonal activities, many local law enforcement agencies continue their year-round community programming well into the winter months. These four acts of community policing are four other recent initiatives that, while not holiday-themed, capture the spirit of giving back to the community. Citizens and law enforcement alike are continuing to keep lines of communication open with these

1. School Supply Drive – Lansing, Michigan

In Lansing, Michigan, officers helped distribute supplies in a local school. In addition to helping the school with crucial supplies, it gives young students a chance to ask questions about safety in their community.

2. Friday Night Tennis Match – Boston, Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the Boston Police Tennis Program, or Volley Against Violence, engages youth with tennis in a way that builds positive relationships and helps develop crucial life skills. In addition to weekly games of tennis at local tennis courts, the evenings begin with community meetings and discussions, and often end with tutoring sessions.

3. Citizen’s Academy – Covina, California

In Covina, California, law enforcement professionals host a Citizen’s Police Academy that provides citizens with information about how the police department works. The goal is to increase understanding and communication between citizens and police, and to help the police find practical solutions to neighborhood problems. The program is almost in its 20th year and builds trust between the community and law enforcement.

4. Classroom Visit and Community Service Q&A – Worcester, Massachusetts

In Worcester, Massachusetts, local lieutenant Sean Murtha visited classes at Alhuda Academy to discuss community service. The students got to ask questions about how best to help out in their community and neighborhoods.

The holiday season presents unique opportunities for local safety managers to reach out to their communities, but community policing efforts can be instituted year-round. If a city or town makes a commitment to community policing, it can help improve lines of communication, bonds of trust, and improve overall community safety.

Share with us any examples of community policing on Facebook or Twitter!

New FOX Series “9-1-1” Focuses On First Responders’ Experiences


Courtesy of FOX

New FOX 9-1-1 TV Show Follows The Lives Of First Responders

How do television showrunners capture the experiences of firefighters, police officers, and 9-1-1 dispatchers? Ryan Murphy’s New Show ‘9-1-1’ Draws From Real Emergency Management Teams

By Mary Kate McGrath, Rave Mobile Safety

First Responders do important work. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and 9-1-1 dispatchers must manage a variety of emergency situations, and their experiences have long been a subject of fascination for television creators. In January, Fox will premiere a new television series titled 9-1-1 that focuses on the experiences of Los Angeles first responders. The show was created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story), and is inspired by the people who put their own lives on the line to help others. Police procedural dramas have been a staple of cable programming for years, but this show will offer a broader, more inclusive look at emergency personnel who respond to crises.

The responders in the show struggle to balance the intensity of their profession with the tumult of their own personal lives, addressing the emotional impact of high-stress emergency management. A day on the job for any firefighter, policeman, paramedic, or dispatch authority can be unpredictable, and the events depicted in the new 9-1-1 TV show will be based on real-life stories. Capturing these experiences accurately requires that the cast and crew have a deeper understanding of the lives and careers of first responders who handle these high-pressure scenarios to serve their communities.

What is “9-1-1” About? 

The first preview of 9-1-1 aired during the World Series in late October. In the snippet, a 9-1-1 dispatcher at a public-safety answering point takes an emergency call. It’s not clear what the emergency is, but the trailer then cuts to several examples of urgent situations a first responder might encounter. “There are two types of emergency,” the dispatcher in the preview says in the voiceover. “The first kind is the kind we all have every day. Then there’s the second kind of emergency. The kind which comes without warning.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show will primarily focus on 911 operators and the various emergency calls that come through the line. The series will portray the unpredictability of the job and might offer some insight on how emergency personnel can prepare for a variety of disasters or crises. The stories will be based off real-life recollections from 9-1-1 dispatchers, but few other details have been revealed about the show.

In the short clip that is available, a police team responds to a woman who is being suffocated by a boa constrictor. It appears to be a pet, but it’s slowly tangled itself around the woman and is starting to cut off her air supply. The officers argue over how best to detach the creature while causing the least harm. It’s a ridiculous situation, but it makes a good point. First responders must be prepared for any scenario, no matter how unexpected. There is a whole scope of situations that first-responders can potentially find themselves in, from routine calls to high-risk, life-saving scenarios, and this series recognizes that reality.

The Research Process

Murphy cast actors in 9-1-1 with prior experience on procedural dramas. Angela Bassett, who is also an executive producer, will star as one of the responders on the law enforcement end. Peter Krause, who is best known for the drama Six Feet Under, and Connie Britton of Nashville fame will appear opposite. Their characters are not yet specified, but Oliver Stark, Aisha Hinds, Kenneth Choi, and Rockmand Dunbar will also play recurring characters. Choi most recently appeared on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. These stars have all appeared in dramas, and even other shows about the emergency response process or law enforcement, in the past, and they will be able to capture the high-stakes lifestyle of a first responder.

In another short preview of the show, Krause’s character, who is also a first responder, talks to a citizen about the pressure he faces in his profession. “The only way to survive the job is to find a way to cope with the ones you lose,” he says. “But in those moments where you actually save someone, there is no better feeling in the world.” It’s clear that the show isn’t going to shy away from the difficult situations that real-life teams face, and viewers can expect to see some tense moments on screen. Even in the brief trailer, the characters make explicit that the work is equally rewarding and challenging.

It’s obvious why a producer would want to mine the high-pressure career of first responders for a drama series, but it takes a lot of research to produce a show about emergency response. 9-1-1 isn’t the first show to focus on the experience of emergency managers, and other recent series have brought on consultants. For example, FX’s comedic hit Brooklyn 99, which follows the exploits of a New York City police precinct. These officers and detectives often end up in funny shenanigans, but they are competent detectives and the show does ultimately reveal some realities of the profession. The show gets into the nitty–gritty of police work and, for this reason, the showrunners regularly consult with law enforcement.

“We have two sets of technical advisers. We have a couple of guys who are fantastic who were in the Glendale police in California and who now do this, and they’re also private security consultants, and they work with police consultants all over the country, they’re really fantastic. And they’re really valuable, they actually have a lot of dealings with the NYPD, so they’re pretty useful for NYPD information,” Brooklyn 99 creator Michael Schur told The Washington Post. “But mostly they’re valuable for actual tactical expertise. Like, you would use this tool to go into that door, you would hold the gun this way, you would ask a perp this question, or you wouldn’t do this, or you wouldn’t do that.”

While this television series might present a dramatization of real-life events, or in the case of Brooklyn 99 compromise verisimilitude for comedy, showrunners still do their best to capture the reality of the profession at stake. Wisdom of the Crowd, a procedural drama that recently premiered on CBS, follows a team of detectives who use real-life crowdsourcing technology to solve crimes. Production companies and audiences have a long-held fascination with the work of emergency management teams, and by paying attention to trends in security safety, these shows capture real strategies that teams across the country are implementing.

9-1-1 will premiere on January 3rd, at 9-10PM ET/PST on Fox. The series will provide a close-up look at the important work that law enforcement, paramedics, and firefighters do on a daily basis, and audiences will have to tune in to learn more.

Continue reading “New FOX Series “9-1-1” Focuses On First Responders’ Experiences”

Our Top 10 Blog Posts In 2017

Our Top 10 Blog Posts in 2017

By Mary Kate McGrath, Rave Mobile Safety

This year was difficult for public safety managers. The United States faced unprecedented threats and law enforcement, first responders, and other security professionals are dealing with new obstacles when it comes to keeping communities safe. The events of this year were trying, but safety managers are exploring new ways to meet these challenges and improve public safety. For many, technology has become a key component of a comprehensive security plan.

Technology offers innovative solutions to protect communities, schools, healthcare facilities, and corporate campuses. The end of the year is a time for reflection and in 2017, the Rave Mobile Safety blog published content that commented on technology’s role in current events, examined trends in security management, and proposed potential solutions to complex security problems. These posts included a look at the dire opioid crisis, thoughts on protecting vulnerable populations from hurricanes and other emergency situations, how indoor mapping might improve emergency response time, and more.

It’s time to look back at the year and compile the best blog posts we felt were the most relevant, educational, or insightful. Hopefully, you enjoyed them just as much as we did.

Before you start to create a safety management plan for the New Year, revisit our top ten. Here’s the list:

1. Panic Button Systems for Schools Saves Lives During Emergencies

Panic Button System for Schools Saves Lives During Emergencies

In a recent study on school violence by the Center for Disease Control – Division of Violence Prevention, 16% of K-12 students reported carrying a weapon of some sort to school at least once in the previous month. 5% reported carrying a gun to school over the same time period. This blog gives insight into the safety challenges that schools face, and offers three scenarios in which a panic button system saved lives.

2. Smarter Year End Budgeting Solutions

Smarter Year-End Budgeting Solutions

When allocating end of year funds, businesses should consider communication tools that have the potential to make a significant impact on employee safety. It’s an investment that might not cost as much as you think, and this end-of-year smarter spending guide could change your budgeting strategy.

3. Managing Vulnerable Populations and Infrastructure Resiliency

Managing Vulnerable Populations and Infrastructure Resiliency

Plans for successfully managing vulnerable populations should be as detailed as community infrastructure resilience programs. Unfortunately, limited resources complicate this initiative. Rave CEO Todd Piett takes a closer look at the challenges of managing substantial vulnerable populations.

4. The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

The latest workplace violence statistics are noteworthy, demonstrating a clear need for the corporate sector to evaluate their safety management plans. Nearly 2 million U.S. workers will become victims of workplace violence, yet 25% of all companies are prepared for an active shooter. This is just one of the important statistics that business owners and human resource managers working in the private sector should be aware of.

5. Texting 9-1-1 Proves Lifesaving in Family Violence Cases

Texting 9-1-1 Proves Lifesaving in Family Violence Cases

Victims of family or domestic violence often fear they will put themselves at greater risk of harm by making a phone call and verbally communicating with 9-1-1. The majority of victims will opt to communicate silently with authorities via text message if the option is available. These are three scenarios where 9-1-1 texting was a vital way for victims of family violence to seek help.

This blog highlights the importance of 9-1-1 texting, but it also lets readers know how they can join the fight against domestic violence. These are 4 crucial ways to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the people in your community from family violence.

6. Mapping Indoor Spaces For Emergency Response

Mapping Indoor Spaces For Emergency Response

Is indoor mapping an effective strategy or an unattainable frontier? Indoor mapping is not a design requirement for buildings, as there’s no commercial interest. However, fire marshals and building inspectors can enlist the community to provide this data, making it a feasible solution. Learn more about how crowdsourced indoor mapping data can be gathered.

7. Drug Overdose Deaths Plaguing the Nation

Drug Overdose Deaths Plaguing the Nation

In October, the United States’ government declared the Opioid Epidemic, which kills 142 people a day nationwide, a Public Health Emergency. This blog provides a brief history of the drug crisis and explores what it would take to combat the crisis. We also look at how public health officials and emergency managers are leveraging technology to address the crisis and minimize future damage.

8. Emergency Alert System Tips to Comply with Clery Act Requirements

Emergency Alert System Tips to Comply with Clery Act Requirements

These emergency alert system tips help will help you enhance your mass communication strategy and comply with the requirements of the Clery Act. Meeting the requirements of the communications portion of the Clery Act can be difficult, especially for federally-funded universities with multiples campuses at different locations. With these three best practices, you can make sure your campus meets the mass communication requirements under the Clery Act.

9. What Does a Crisis Management Plan Mean for Cities Like Miami?

What Does a Crisis Management Plan Mean for Cities Like Miami?

How does a city like Miami build a successful crisis management plan despite the unpredictable severe weather, a rapidly increasing population, and other major challenges? The city prioritizes emergency planning, enhancing community readiness, and leveraging technology for safety purposes. Similar cities continue to adapt their plans by leveraging technological tools and data.

10. Why UX Matters When it Comes to Critical Safety Communications

Why UX Matters When Seconds Count

When it comes to critical communications, UX matters. During product development one of the most important processes, next to performance, is the design. This blog explores why and the implications for mobile safety platforms.

What Next?

When it comes to emergency management or public safety, what topics you would like to see addressed in 2018? Please let us know on our social channels: Facebook,  Twitter, LinkedIn, or through our contact page. We are always interested in hearing from you and learning about the security concerns impacting local communities.

Sexual Harassment in Hollywood and the Similarities to the Everyday Workplace

harassment in hollywood

Sexual Harassment in Hollywood and the Similarities to the Everyday Workplace

Written by Jackson Lucas, Rave Mobile Safety

Published on December 7, 2017


Sexual harassment in the workplace has been recently uncovered in an industry notorious for its male dominance: the entertainment industry. The unveiling of rampant sexual harassment in Hollywood has remained a big focus since allegations against famous movie producer Harvey Weinstein were revealed last month. Numerous women have come forward with stories of their own experience with sexual harassment and assault. Their bravery has helped topple many powerful men’s careers across Hollywood and brought to light a struggle women have been facing throughout their lives.

Sexual harassment is not unique to the entertainment industry. The public conversation surrounding harassment in Hollywood has surfaced many similarities that shouldn’t be ignored within our own workplace environments. We can look through this Hollywood lens to examine and reflect on how workplace violence against women remains unaddressed in our own lives.

The Predatory Power Dynamic

A common sexual harassment theme between Hollywood and the average workplace is the predatory power dynamic. Hollywood stars Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams recently sat down with Vanity Fair to share their stories of unwanted sexual harassment during the early stages of their acting careers at the hands of famous producer James Toback. Their stories share consistent themes with dozens of allegations made against Harvey Weinstein. Toback would invite young actresses to meet him in his hotel room to discuss new roles. For young actresses, especially newcomers, a meeting with Toback could be their only chance at a big break. Toback had a way of drawing on certain acting techniques to manipulate the performer’s insecurities.

When these women spoke up, they were met with an unbelievable response. McAdams remembers telling her agent about Toback and her saying, “I can’t believe he did it again. This isn’t the first time that this had happened….” Understandably, McAdams was angry that her agent knowingly put her “into a lion’s den and had given no warning that he was a predator.” Knowledge surrounding Toback’s predatory behavior was widespread and yet no one was taking any action, no one was warning other young women about his behavior.

This type of predatory behavior is not unique to the entertainment industry. Organizations that are very hierarchical or masculine can breed more harassment, and often receive less reporting of it, because gendered power dynamics are a big driver. Some predatory business leaders believe that “…with enough power or fame…you can do anything”.

A very public case of predatory workplace harassment was the ousting of Dov Charney, former CEO of the retail company, American Apparel. Sexual harassment was so pervasive that even the employee handbook mentioned the sexual nature of the workplace. It wouldn’t be shocking to find the CEO pantless around the office or to see inappropriate images of him splattered on computer screens. The predatory environment was beyond typical sexual harassment cases and has been dubbed as the “mother of all sexual harassment cases” by a judge ruling over a defamation suit by Charney. Charney’s argument as with other accused business leaders of the same mindset is that everything is consensual, and in many times, the willing party would be rewarded. However, female employees that weren’t interested in a sexual relationship faced a dilemma in continuing on their career paths. The environment in these predatory workplaces pushes employees to do things out of moral character for the sake of career growth or even stability.

A Culture of Silencing

For years, rumors intensified about the sexual misconduct of famous comedian and writer, Louis CK. Disturbing stories had been known to many in the comedy world, although little to nothing was ever done about the allegations. Numerous female comics shared stories about their experiences being silenced by colleagues in the comedy world regarding their claims against CK. Nicole Silverberg, a prominent editor and TV-writer, was told to delete a tweet she had written about Louis CK before applying to a high-profile comedy job. Comic Jen Kirkman said back in 2015 that there was “a lockdown on talking about him… if I say it, my career is over.” Those that did speak up tended to be women who were well-established in their careers.

Just as the comedic world closed ranks around CK and silenced dialogue surrounding the allegations, rigid bureaucratic procedures work similarly to deter employees from reporting workplace violence. According to research by Anna-Maria Marshall, a sociologist at the University of Illinois, official harassment policies and grievance procedures often end up creating obstacles to women’s ability to assert their rights. Recently, 1,500 former Capitol Hill aides signed an open letter to House and Senate leaders to demand that Congress do better in protecting women in Washington. Right now, current policies enacted to protect women are actually working to silence them.

“Under federal law, complainants must undergo a confidential process, where co-workers who might be able to provide corroborating evidence are excluded. They often must wait about three months before submitting an official complaint, yet must file one no later than 180 days after the episode. Once filed, victims must submit to up to 30 days of mandatory counseling and complete another 30 days of mediation.”

According to Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer, “the system is so stacked… they don’t want people to come forward.” Such strict policies have excluded many women from protection, including ‘fellows’ who are not recognized as full-time employees. This isn’t just happening in Washington either. Marshall said that companies establish rigid harassment policies as “mini litigation defense centers… to show a court or jury that they did everything they could, rather than to protect the women in the workplace.”

The Enablement of Perpetrators

Unfortunately, in some cases, sexual misconduct and harassment allegations weren’t enough to result in repercussions for the perpetrator. Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly secretly settled numerous sexual harassment allegations throughout his career. Back in January, O’Reilly settled with a network contributor for $32 million, by far the largest of his previous five settlements to women he harassed over the span of a decade. Despite knowledge of this agreement, Fox decided to renew its contract with O’Reilly in February, paying him $25 million per year over the next four years. It was a matter of revenue.  At the time of his contract renewal, O’Reilly’s program was the single largest source of advertising revenue for Fox News, the most consistent profit center for parent-company 21st Century Fox. It wasn’t until a Times report in April triggered an advertiser exodus from his program, “The O’Reilly Factor” that 21st Century Fox decided to remove O’Reilly from their network.

It’s typical for many perpetrators in the workplace to also allude punishment. In fact, many victims fear they will face professional retaliation if they report sexual misconduct – and they’re not wrong. Researchers have concluded that hostility from supervisors or a bad reference to future employers are possible consequences. An August survey of more than 400 directors of public and private companies found that sexual harassment had not been a topic of discussion at the board level. Female board members reported they were uncomfortable bringing up the issue with their male counterparts, highlighting the notion that women feel that current company culture will fail to administer consequences to perpetrators.

How to be a Leader in Employee Protection

A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll details the vast extent to which women encounter inappropriate sexual conduct from men, unfortunately highlighting what many women have been saying for years – this form of workplace violence is a broad, deep, and untreated problem. As an employer, below are three necessary steps you should be taking to create a safe environment and protect your employees.

1. Listen: Your first response when addressing workplace grievances might be to pull together your executive team to think about next steps. Unfortunately, women are still extremely underrepresented in executive- and senior-level positions, in board seats, and as CEOs. Your executive meeting will likely be missing the voices of key stakeholders needed for a productive dialogue about violence against women to happen – actual women. Inviting all stakeholders to the table to openly discuss workplace violence is necessary for creating solutions that will empower your employees and protect them from future incidents.

2. Empower: As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure proper channels exist for your employees to report workplace violence and misconduct. This might include establishing an internal procedure for processing workplace grievances that allow employees to bypass their supervisors. While you might be taking necessary steps to create a safe work environment, not all of your employees will feel comfortable coming forward to report incidences of violence. Respect these employee’s feelings of vulnerability and discomfort and empower them to discreetly submit and report critical information in real time regarding sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors.

3. Educate: Before you begin mandating sexual harassment and workplace violence seminars for your employees, it’s important to recognize the effectiveness of different training options. While many companies use online video training for their employees, this might not be the most interactive and engaging space to learn. Instead, one option is to look for courses that bring leaders in-house to work directly with your employees. This will encourage some employees to speak up and engage others who need to focus on listening. Make sure you are using software platforms that ensure 2-way communication with employees. This will allow you to push out critical information regarding upcoming staff training, company policies and resources, and how employees can access support channels for workplace grievances.

Ultimately, the success of these trainings and the safety of your employees is influenced by company culture. Are you actively striving to make your workplace a safe environment? Are these efforts visible to your employees? How have you handled employee grievances in the past? Make sure to lead by example. Employees will begin to take workplace safety seriously and strive to be better once they see you doing the same.

How To Harden Soft Target Locations

 soft target


How to Improve Security at Soft Target Locations

Understanding the ways technology and modern strategies can be leveraged to improve safety and communications among soft target locations and events

Written by Todd Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Rave Mobile Safety

Published on December 6, 2017

What is a Soft Target?

A soft target is a location or place that is vulnerable due to its lack of security or protection, though is often populated by groups of people. To understand the threats posed to soft targets, it’s important to identify what makes them susceptible to intimidation and acts of violence and terrorism.

Soft Targets Versus Hard Targets

Examples of soft target locations include libraries, schools, malls, movie theaters, houses of worship, as well as public venues and events. Each location allows public access to anyone who wishes to enter.

(Related Articles: Three Ways To leverage Mobile Phones to Improve Venue and Workplace Safety, and Five Security Trends Boosting Event Safety)

On the other hand, an example of a soft target that transitions into a hard target is the airport. In most airports, the check-in and baggage claim areas are widely accessible to the public making them both more susceptible to violent activity. The airport becomes a hard target location to travelers only once they’ve made it past the point of security. The standard airport security process in the United States includes full-body scanners and/or metal detectors and a thorough search of all traveler belongings through computer tomography (CT) scanners.

The Risk for Soft Targets

Soft target locations are mostly at risk for its welcoming environment. It opens the possibility of welcoming the wrong people, and the risk of violence is particularly high in places where modern conflict is apparent, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques. Sadly, in the case of Sutherland Springs, TX, several families with adults and children were in attendance for the Sunday morning service when a lone gunman stormed through the door with a semi-automatic rifle, claiming the lives of 24 people and injuring 26 others.

“People may go to a house of worship and have a mindset that it’s not going to happen here,” former law enforcement officer Marianne Alvarez told the Huffington Post. “It’s a place where you feel safe. It’s a sanctuary. [If an attack does occur] it’s a huge shock and they might freeze.”

The Texas Church incident was not the first shooting to take place in a soft target location and it wont be the last. The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, NV took place during a largely attended music festival, and community events are becoming increasingly vulnerable. In November, a man drove a truck onto a public path in New York City, killing eleven people and injuring a dozen others. The event left cities and smaller communities struggling to understand how best to protect public spaces.

Hardening Soft Target Locations

No one person can be solely responsible for hardening of a soft target location. To be successful in this initiative, there must be a never-ending commitment from law enforcement, community officials, employers, event coordinators, and public citizens alike. Here are proven strategies that can be applied by the whole community to enhance the security at soft target locations.


Is there an effective response that doesn’t pertain to gun or weapons?  To answer this question, we must first recognize role of politics and society in risk management.  One of the most widely debated topics in American politics to date surrounds gun regulation. In parts of the United States, lawmakers have voted in favor of increasing armament at soft target locations, while other regions have proposed universally stricter gun legislation.

One state is taking on a stronger approach to protecting their congregations through the use of armed security volunteers. Texas is one of several states that have passed laws to waive state requirements on armed security detail training, licensing and background checks. Similar to houses of worship in the state of Texas, Bishop Darnell Dixon of Raleigh, NC believes the best way to protect his church is with armed defenders. After Sundays massacre in Texas, Dixon told CBS News “If I call people together, it is incumbent on me to make sure that they are safe.” In states with minimal gun regulation for civilians, soft targets may choose this course of action

There are examples to suggest this strategy works. For instance, the gunman that attacked churchgoers in Colorado Springs in 2007 was shot and killed by an armed security member inside the church. Other states, including Mississippi, are following Texas’s lead to reduce the requirements needed to hire staff armed security in a house of worship.


Gun-related incidents aren’t the only challenge that cities are facing when it comes to keeping soft targets safe. In New York, the Transportation Security Administration has issued a warning to the trucking industry and areas that might be impacted that large vehicles are being used to as weapons. The city has also put up larger barriers between pedestrian areas and the streets of the city, and upped security detail in high-density pedestrian areas during high profile events.

(Related Article: Manhattan Terror Attack: Vehicle or Weapon of Mass Destruction?)

Cities outside of New York have also started to plan for potential targeting of pedestrian areas. These states will be more committed to investing in helpful technology, planning landscape and infrastructure with barriers in mind, and closing streets during high-traffic events.


Not surprisingly, additional challenges are forced upon the facility managers of religious and government organizations. Because religious buildings are commonly designated as historical landmarks, there are often restrictions on how the facade and interior can be modified. Working around cosmetic restrictions, a common security-enhancing strategy for soft target locations is the implementation of technology.


–  Anonymous tip-texting: These tools are often leveraged by agencies and organizations to empower their people to share information and prevent dangerous situations from happening in the first place. (Continue on to the next section titled “Crowdsourced Solutions” for real examples of how anonymous tip texting is being used in the real world today.)

–  Security Metal Detectors: are used to detect guns, knives and other weapons from entering a populated facility or event to prevent an attack. These systems are widely used in schools, courthouses, airports as well as private and public events.

–  Monitoring Social Media: According to the blog Five Security Trends Boosting Event Safety, “Information found on the web can provide better insight into the potential behavior and intentions of event attendees, especially if the event is focused on sensitive or political topics. It can also help public officials plan ahead to ensure they have enough event safety staff by estimating the total number of attendees listed on social media event pages.”


–  Panic Button Systems: Modern technology has proven to facilitate a faster response to unprecedented crises at soft target locations, such as a panic button mobile app designed to enhance coordination between facility staff members and first responders. Take a city’s public library for example. If an attack were to occur, a library staff witness could activate the app to simultaneously notify all other onsite employees and first responders with the push of a button.

–  SMS Opt-in Systems: At the most recent Kentucky Derby, event organizers used an SMS opt-in system where Derby attendees could text a short code to be opted-in to event communications. An important note to make is the necessity to increase the perceived value of the system to attendees by incorporating relevant non-emergency (e.g. traffic issues) communications as well – often opting in to solely receive safety messages is not as strong a message as one that is perceived as having more immediate value.

–  Facility Floor Mapping: Comprehensive data about a soft target location can be entered into a facility profile database. When an emergency call is received, the 911 call taker accesses the data and passes it onto first responders traveling to the scene of the incident. A facility profile database enables incident managers to upload details about the layout of the business and the best access points, floor plans, utility shut-off points, AED locations and alarm information. Contact information for incident managers and security personnel should also be included, as well as access codes and potential hazards. (Continue on to the next section titled “Crowdsourced Solutions” for a model of how community members can facilitate the soft target location data made available to first responders in an emergency.)

–  Mass Notification: Throughout the duration of an emergency incident, law enforcement and incident managers can leverage a mass notification system to maintain two-way communication with employees via voice, SMS messaging and email – ensuring maximum situational awareness and enabling employees in need of assistance to receive help in the fastest time possible.



In addition to leveraging a mass notification system for faster communication, there are measures that can applied by the public to minimize the impact of an attack as well.

For instance, the ALICE training institute is a solution that every member of a community can endorse. ALICE is a program run by former law enforcement officer Marianne Alvarez that aims to prepare institutions for an active shooter event.  Alvarez once worked as the director of security at a church and has included houses of worship in her preparedness training. ALICE is an acronym that stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate, which is the cornerstone of Alvarez’s plan to strengthen security and response at soft target locations during a violent attack.

The ALICE methodology can also be integrated with your communication plan. Such an integration may include isolating or locking out an assailant, countering by any means possible even if it is merely distraction, evacuating to safety as the opportunity arises, enabling those who evacuated to virtually confirm they are safe, as well as enforcing a constant flow of communication with those still in danger. (Learn how GE Appliances performed employee wellness checks during the major 2017 hurricanes)


Another form of effective crowdsourcing solutions is anonymous tip texting. At the University of South Florida, for example, the possibility of an active shooting was prevented thanks to a USF student witness and Campus Police. The unnamed student witness leveraged a mobile app provided by the University to anonymously report a fellow student’s possession of a .25 caliber pistol in his dorm room. Through the app, Campus Police were able to immediately acquire the information needed to respond and arrested the armed student. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The Massachusetts (MA) State Police is another agency that leverages an anonymous tip solution to connect with their community and collect information during critical events. For instance, MA State Police used the technology to collect information from the public after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, they also used the information to solve the Baby Doe mystery when a three-year-old girl was found in the Boston Harbor with no trace of identification or reports of a missing child.


Enlisting a facility manager or safety official to provide soft target location data requires a trusted critical data solution and a new “social contract.”  Below is a model from our earlier blog post Mapping Indoor Spaces for Emergency Response, which outlines the indoor floor mapping challenges and the most effective solutions (traditional versus crowdsourced) to each challenge:

soft target locations crowdsourced

Click here to read Mapping Indoor Spaces for Emergency Response



In preparation for a violent incident, it is critical to consider the time it will likely take for first responders to arrive at the scene, especially in locations where only a small number of law enforcement officers are on duty at a given time.

Timely and accurate communication at the start of an attack and throughout the incident is critical to preventing the spread of confusion, injury and false rumors. Specifically in the case of an active shooter incident, most of the fatalities will occur within the first 3 minutes of the attack.

During the Las Vegas massacre on October 1, 2017, for example, a lone gunman stood from his Mandalay Bay hotel suite on the 32nd-floor and opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival, killing 58 people and injuring 546 others. Witnesses of the attack reported being unsure of what was happening, and were at first convinced the sounds of rapid firing were actually fireworks. A man two floors below the gunman’s room knew immediately what was going on, but couldn’t get a hold of anyone quick enough. Communication was critical in this high-stake situation because the faster people were informed the faster they could react to the information by sheltering in place, evacuating or avoiding the dangerous area.


A Whole Community Effort

Recent events have posed increased security risks to soft target venues like houses of worship and other public and community spaces. Law enforcement, safety managers, and communities alike can implement some of these strategies to try and prepare for these events, and by rethinking emergency preparedness in the case of these soft-target attacks, will look to minimize the hurt and damage.

The nature of soft targets makes them difficult to protect, and every emergency management team must decide which practices and strategies to implement. It’s important that the public understands these safety practices, and while the recent attacks on soft targets are a matter of concern, there are ways to be proactive when it comes to protecting these public institutions and spaces.


First Responder PTSD Following The Opioid Crisis

first responder PTSD during Opioid Crisis

First Responder PTSD: The Escalating Health Risks For Opioid Crisis Emergency Response Teams

Written by Mary Kate McGrath & Andrea Lebron, Rave Mobile Safety

Published on December 5, 2017


Opioid Crisis First Responder PTSD

Treating drug overdoses has been a long-standing issue in the United States, but recently a spotlight has been lit on the growing health risks for opioid crisis first responders. In October 2017, the White House declared the opioid crisis, which has killed more than 200,000 people since 1996, a public health emergency. The order is an important step in addressing the plague of opioid addiction in this country, but after years of responding to opioid-related health emergencies, law enforcement, paramedics, and other safety professionals are starting to need support as well.

First responders have seen countless individuals repeatedly overdose and eventually pass away, and even as treatment centers become more common in their state or county, they are often left to reckon with the trauma.

A Look into the World of First Responders in the Hardest Hit State

In Ohio, the state with the highest rate of overdose, the opioid crisis has taken a toll on first responders’ mental health. For Kelley Davidson, Communications Manager for the Grove City, Ohio Police Department and Smart911 user, the epidemic is a source of huge frustration: “The increase in opioid overdoses places greater demands on first responders as well as other community resources.  The frustration comes from wanting to make a positive difference while trying to meet the ever-increasing needs”.

While in the past, the use of antidotes like Narcan for drug overdoses was rare, today’s opioid crisis paints a much different picture. According to EMS1, Lucas County, Ohio responded to 3,000 overdoses between 2014 and 2016. This is approximately four calls that firefighters, police officers, and paramedics must respond to each day.   “If something happens to them I feel like it’s on my shoulders,” Deputy Charles Johnson told the publication.

This inevitable sense of responsibility, and the persistent nature of opioid addiction, is taxing for those who are on the front lines of the epidemic.

When many efforts to revive individuals who have overdosed go in vain, it creates a sense of hopelessness for first response teams that is difficult to shake. The frequency of these reports is also intense; some days, responders do not have time to rest and reflect between calls.

The Three Biggest Threats to Opioid Crisis First Responders

With over a hundred people passing away in the United States each day from opioid overdose, first responders are facing increasing health risks. The three biggest threats include:

  • Contact Overdoses
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Burn-Out

Contact Overdoses

In recent years, accidental exposure to synthetic opioids, such as the highly-potent fentanyl, have resulted in overdoses. In June, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a briefing guide for first responders who might come in contact with the lethal synthetic drug, warning them: “Since fentanyl can be ingested orally, inhaled through the nose or mouth, or absorbed through the skin or eyes, any substance suspected to contain fentanyl should be treated with extreme caution as exposure to a small amount can lead to significant health‐related complications, respiratory depression, or death.”

When handling fentanyl, first responders have reported breathing problems, dizziness, and even unconsciousness. In one case, an officer in East Liverpool, Ohio brushed the drug off his uniform and it entered the system through his hands. “I started talking weird. I slowly felt my body shutting down. I could hear them talking, but I couldn’t respond. I was in total shock,” the officer, Chris Green, told the Morning Journal according to CNN. He fell unconscious at the station and luckily was able to be revived with Narcan.

Contact overdoses are not limited to human first responders. K-9 units used by law enforcement to sniff out drug-related sources are also at risk from exposure to these deadly drugs. Police officers are beginning to carry naloxone in K-9 doses, which veterinarians confirm is safe. It’s becoming more common for law enforcement teams to keep specialized drug kits on hand to protect their animal companions.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The symptoms of PTSD are starting to make their way into the daily lives of first responders, so much to the point where it’s creating a sense of cynicism with each new opioid-related emergency call. Michael Brumage, an executive director for the Charleston Health department in Ohio, stressed the severity of PTSD, stating: “When repeatedly exposed to people who are overdosing, especially those who have repeated overdoses, we’re facing cynicism, and some of the older law enforcement officers expressed a kind of detachment from both work and personal lives.” Brumage says “They just became so cynical over time. They weren’t as effective as they could have been — either professionally or personally.”

Worse is when family members are the ones that discovered the overdosing individual and have to make the call to 9-1-1. In those situations, first responders walk into chaos, many times with children witnessing the violent overdose and the aftermath of the revival attempt. Those situations haunt first responders who are constantly reminded of that trauma each time they respond to a new call.


In addition to first responder PTSD, the emergency response teams located in areas highly affected by the opioid crisis are constantly living in stress. According to Kathryn Millán, LPC/MHSP from the Valley Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, first responders treating opioid overdoses tend to suffer from compassion fatigue, which is facing the dilemma of loving their job of saving others but becoming burned out from the repeated number of incidents.

Valley Hospital also mentions the symptoms of first responder PTSD or burn-out, including:

  • Physical or mental overwhelm or exhaustion
  • Changes in perceptions of safety, community, and trust
  • Intrusive memories or thoughts about past traumas
  • Excessive worry about loved ones or personal safety
  • Unfounded doubts that you do your job well
  • Increases in anxiety or arousal, or feelings of numbness and disconnection

Support for First Responder PTSD

First responders might have personal strategies for dealing with tragedy, but several programs are being established to provide more comprehensive support to those suffering from first responder PTSD who’ve sustained mental or physical traumas as a result of the opioid crisis.

Resilience Training and Support Groups

The increase in workload has created a clear need for resilience training, in which the daily trauma that paramedics might face is recognized and they are taught to detect signs of first responder PTSD or burn-out in themselves and others. Support groups can also provide a way to process the stress of a critical incident. However, this is a short-term solution for first responders, and in many cases, additional counseling will be needed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, mindfulness courses are becoming more commonplace in areas of Oregon and, most recently, in West Virginia. While the program has been met with some resistance from first responders and other safety professionals, program leader Richard Goerling insisted to the publication that it actually improves performance in these difficult situations. “Ignoring emotion actually makes us more weak. Typically today we wait until first responders are broken, and then we try to fix them,” Goerling said.

Safety Profiles

Some 9-1-1 centers are leveraging technology to provide a step up in the opioid crisis. Communities using safety profiles give response teams the power to keep track of repeated opioid overdose incidents so that they can more quickly respond the next time. Residents can create a Smart911 safety profile and provide information to public safety agencies that will automatically present itself to call takers whenever the resident dials 9-1-1. The safety profile can contain life-saving information such as the location of naloxone kits in the home, mental health issues that can aid in how first responders approach the individual, and an emergency contact.

Citizen Training

Another approach some communities are starting to use is training citizens to use Narcan to treat overdoses. The goal is to help alleviate some of the pressure placed on response teams. In some cities, librarians are being trained to use the antidote drug as many overdoses have occurred in libraries. Following this model, civilians that have access to the opiate antidote and proper education will be able to act in an overdose situation. Naloxone rescue kits are also being made accessible in pharmacies and as an over-the-counter remedy. Naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws could save lives.

Looking forward, addressing the health risks to first responders brought on by the opioid crisis will require a huge societal overhaul. It will take an amalgam of resources to provide relief to all those impacted by opioid use and eventually end its devastating grasp on America.


Continue reading “First Responder PTSD Following The Opioid Crisis”

Moving into 2018: Managing Growth and Scaling Infrastructure

managing growth and scaling infrastructure, Security Incident Management Software

How We’re Managing Growth and Scaling Infrastructure to Ensure Continued Quality for Our Customers

Over the past year, Rave has continued its rapid growth, not only adding over 700 new customers, but also greatly increasing the scenarios for which our solutions are used.  The net result is our 911 enhancing system, the Rave 911 Suite,  is processing millions of emergency calls per month, while our mass notification system is sending new notifications  on average every two minutes, 24 hrs a day, while delivering tens of millions of messages per month.

In order to support the growing volume at the level of service our clients expect and deserve, we’re announcing  exciting new infrastructure enhancements:

–  Data center and infrastructure enhancements. It has always been our belief, that infrastructure supporting life-critical systems needs to be public-safety grade.  As a company, we recognize that means we need to minimize dependencies on external vendors and as such have made the investment in our own geo-redundant infrastructure and 24×7 technical operations.  Few vendors can make this claim.  The results have been worth the investment as we had the flexibility to manage around major “internet wide” events in both 2016 and 2017 that brought down cloud infrastructure providers, with minimal impact to our customers. As we move into 2018 we are adding more data centers, on separate power grids and backbones.

–  Messaging capacity. With a 50% increase in messaging in 2017 over 2016, and a projected growth exceeding that in 2018, Rave is making a major investment in increased messaging capacity.  Scalability and performance testing as well as real world results from events like the “Great Shakeout” identified areas for enhancements in both software performance, and down stream messaging delivery connections.  As such, Rave has already added more than double its SMS messaging capacity in the past 30 days leading into the New Year, and has software enhancements coming in early 2018 to increase the projected delivery performance by another 40%.

–  Data security continues to be a top priority.  Rave is officially in process with a FedRamp certification– one of the few Software-as-a-Service safety software vendors to make have that designation.  Additionally, we have increased the investment in outside security audits and tools to move towards a state of “continuous assessment” vs the traditional annual process.  Coupled with an official bug bounty program to be launched in early 2018, Rave is making a significant investment in staying ahead of the bad actors.

In addition to our “behind the scenes” improvements mentioned here.  Look out for some really powerful new features we’ll be announcing in the coming months!

Rave Technology Receives Top Security Awards

security awards


Rave Receives Four Top-Ranking Security Awards for Three Different Technologies


“Rave’s lifesaving solutions are what they are today because of our customers – and these security awards are a symbol of this invaluable partnership.” 

–  Todd Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Rave Mobile Safety

Continuing our momentum in 2017, we’re excited to announce that three Rave Mobile Safety solutions were selected for four different security awards. Focused in state and local government and higher education, the awards recognize the Rave Alert mass notification solution, the Rave Panic Button response and communication app, and the Rave Guardian personal safety app. These three products offer unique solutions that provide safety officials and employees with the tools to more effectively communicate, prepare, and respond during emergencies.

Year after year our mission is to develop communication and safety technology that our clients and communities can trust when lives are on the line. We accomplish this by learning from our customers and leveraging their expertise to identify gaps and continuously improve our solutions.  “Rave’s lifesaving solutions are what they are today because of our customers,” said Todd Miller, Chief Operating Officer at Rave Mobile Safety, “And these security awards are a symbol of this invaluable partnership.”

The Security Awards:



Following September 11th, there was an explosion of new products and solutions and as a result, American Security Today was formed. Since that catastrophe, threats to our nation moved to things like domestic attacks, cyber security issues, urban violence, cultural shifts, and so on. The ‘ASTORS’ were created to acknowledge the newest initiatives and technologies in physical & IT security, essential to increasing safety and improving response times during emergencies.

We proudly announce Rave Alert as the Platinum ‘ASTORS’ Award Winner for the Best IP Mass Notification System



Rave Panic Button received the Gold ‘ASTORS’ Award Winner for Best Emergency Mobile Technology.



U.S. education technology professionals voted for the top-ranking security technology they considered most vital to the mission and business of higher education, and we’re excited to announce that Rave Alert was awarded the 2017 Campus Technology Readers’ Choice Gold Award for Emergency Notification Services.



The Campus Safety BEST Awards honor superior products and services for hospital, school and university protection professionals, recognizing the best security, law enforcement, emergency management and safety solutions in these industries. We’re honored to have Rave Guardian named as the 2017 Campus Safety BEST Winner for Personal Safety Apps.


For a full list of awards presented to Rave Mobile Safety, click here.


Smarter Year-End Budgeting Solutions

Year-End Budgeting Solutions


Smarter Spending Options to Consider for Your Business’s Year-End Budgeting Solutions

Written by Andrea Lebron

Published on November 29, 2017


The fiscal year for many businesses has come to an end, leaving team leaders to determine which advantageous year-end budgeting solutions are needed and worth the investment. The “use it or lose it” philosophy suggests that a department’s leftover funds in the fiscal budget should be spent, as this might indicate to budget decision-makers that funds were allocated beyond what was needed, which may result in decreased funds the following year. Many businesses and even government organizations end up settling for highly-unnecessary and low-quality purchases to make up for the budget surplus.

2016’s publicly available examples of wasteful “use it or lose it” spending in Washington, DC include:

  • the US Army spent $30,900 on an expandable paintball arena,
  • the Department of Transportation spent $20,000 on a new grand piano,
  • and finally, the Department of Interior opted to have a bronze sculpture placed in the Itjen Courtyard in Skagway Alaska, for which they spent $162,800 (3X the city’s median household income)

While these are more extravagant ways of spending extra funds, businesses should consider tools that have the potential to make a significant impact, like basic safety tools to protect their most valuable assets: their employees. Upon researching potential year-end budgeting solutions and purchases for your business, consider the three levels of spending before making your final decision.

The Three Levels of Smart Year-End Spending

To help in evaluating the value of safety and communication tools, let’s compare another way to spend your leftover funds wisely and get the best year-end budgeting solutions for your business.

1. A Year’s Worth of Extra Office Supplies for 10 People = A Mass Internal Alerting System
The average cost of office supplies per employee is around $200, but taking $2,000 to provide an extra set of pens, paper, and sticky notes for about 10 employees could instead also be used to purchase a basic texting and email alerting system to enhance communication with employees.

A basic texting and email alerting system would enable you to deliver pre-drafted SMS text or email messages to employees for common company-wide occurrences such as office closures due to severe weather or an IT system outage. Because a basic alerting system requires the employee contact information to be uploaded and maintained manually, the system is most convenient for small businesses or for departmental team managers. At the end of the day, the convenience of being able to send a mass notification through email and text message is of extreme value.

2. 2,000 Additional Cups of Coffee = An Employee Alerting System with a Data Management Tool
Let’s assume that an average cup of coffee costs $2.50. You could choose to spend $5,000 on 2,000 cups of coffee, or instead, you can invest in an employee alerting system to enable better communication through text message, email, and voice. The $5,000 spent will also include an automatic data management tool to easily load and maintain employee information. The employee alerting system with the automatic data management feature will work with any size business and minimizes communication efforts for managers, especially during a company-wide event or during an emergency situation.

3. 5,217 More Rolls of Toilet Paper = Fully-Loaded Alerting and Two-Way Communication System
Another way to spend extra funds is on something that is non-perishable and that you know will get used eventually is toilet paper. An average case of 36 toilet paper rolls costs $69, which means an office could spend around $10,000 for an extra 5,217 toilet paper rolls.

For the same price of purchasing 144 extra cases of toilet paper, a business could invest in a fully-loaded alerting system, including:

1.  SMS text, email, and voice,

2.  a SmartLoader system for employee data,

3.  as well as the option to integrate two mobile application tools, such as Rave Panic Button and Rave Guardian:

Rave Panic Button: During a critical incident, such as an unprecedented workplace violence incident (click here for the latest workplace violence statistics) or an employee experiencing a medical emergency, the Rave Panic Button app allows designated employees to report the incident to 911 and send a mass notification to all on-site co-workers with the push of a button.

–  Rave Guardian: Rave Guardian is a personal safety app that serves as added protection for onsite or traveling employees or even field workers who might need extra help along the path to their destination.

Use Cases to Prove ROI for Safety Tools

Here are real examples of businesses investing extra funds in safety and communication tools for their employees, and how the organizations are putting these tools to good use:

GE Appliances (a Haier Company): Performing Employee Wellness Checks

GE Appliances, a Haier Company, optimized their pre-existing emergency notification system to go beyond sending severe weather alerts. During Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the GE Appliances security team used their alerting system to deliver messages to their employees through SMS text and email twice a day, prompting them to confirm if they were safe. You can hear directly from the GE Appliances security team featured in this past webinar.

Hear a snippet: GE Appliances shares lessons-learned during Hurricane Harvey and the importance of being proactive.

Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations (Fluor): Simplifying Emergency Communications

Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations (Fluor) is a long-time user of the Intermedix WebEOC solution for incident management, but when it came to sending out mass notifications to their employees, Fluor faced several inefficiencies. Sending out notifications required the sender to take several extra steps between two separate systems, which is why Fluor decided to transition to a WebEOC-friendly alerting system. Learn how this change gave Fluor a $189,000 return on investment.

Year-End Budgeting Solutions Done Right

Employee communication will always be an important part of your business, especially as it relates to urgent notifications. Using your leftover year-end funds toward implementing safety and communication-enhancing tools that enable you to quickly and effectively deliver urgent notifications through multiple communication channels will be well worth the investment.


Managing Vulnerable Populations and Infrastructure Resiliency

vulnerable populations and infrastructure resiliency

Is Your Vulnerable Populations Management Plan as Detailed as Your Infrastructure Resiliency Efforts?

Written by Todd Piett, ENP, CEO of Rave Mobile Safety

Published on November 21, 2017


Our plans for successfully managing vulnerable populations should be as detailed as community infrastructure resiliency programs, but unfortunately, limited resources complicate this initiative.

President Trump has officially declared November as “Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month”, in step with a long-time push from municipalities and communities all over the country for more infrastructure resiliency programs. While this initiative demonstrates our nation’s progress towards strengthening America’s infrastructure assets, a big gap still exists.

What constitutes as infrastructure assets exactly? Infrastructure assets are high-cost investments that are vital to a country, municipality or business organization’s growth and development. Examples of infrastructure assets include transportation, communication, sewage, water and electric systems.

As part of community preparedness efforts, most emergency managers maintain detailed inventories of critical infrastructure, their vulnerabilities, state of repair, and hotspots around town that are more easily damaged (e.g. the roads that always flood or ice over in the winter season); however, the same amount of critical information is rarely available about the community’s most valuable assets: its residents.

Some form of resident information can typically be recovered on the internet; however, the data is collected by various entities, maintained in different systems, and not rapidly accessible during an emergency event. When it matters most, emergency management officials need to be aware of who resides and works in their communities, where they are located, and what kind of assistance they will require should a disaster strike.

The Challenges with Managing Substantial Vulnerable Populations

Upon using a traditional registry solution, the act of obtaining critical information about local residents during a major event such as a hurricane, blizzard, or terrorist attack can be especially challenging. What’s more, acquiring a substantial list of contacts and securely maintaining the critical information is often the challenge that goes unprecedented.  Below, we have identified the four main roadblocks that can hinder the contact registration process, including limited resources, interoperability, data privacy, and public response.

Limited Resources

Collecting, updating and maintaining data in a registry for a large group of participants, let alone vulnerable residents, is a daunting task. Each new participant in the system adds a burden on the administrators who must verify the data, often re-enter it from paper forms, and somehow implement a process to keep the data current. With limited resources, administrators can only maintain data on those that identify themselves as being vulnerable, and lose the opportunity to plan around uncategorized vulnerable populations such as pet owners who refuse to leave their pets behind during a disaster because of the lack of available shelter resources. Effective and rapid evacuation and sheltering of individuals with pets is an ongoing issue for emergency managers as they plan and track their disaster management strategies.


When disaster strikes, emergency managers must frantically gather data from various localized, non-normalized online systems, making collaboration extremely cumbersome and ineffectual. Trying to estimate resource requirements (e.g. oxygen tank needs) in an affected region that spans multiple jurisdictions and agencies complicates the ability to collect, normalize definitions, and de-duplicate data. The lack of keeping track of vulnerable populations during a disaster was a huge issue during the October of 2017 wildfires in Northern California. With the average casualty age of 79, the act of successfully evacuating thousands of elderly residents proved insufficient. In one situation, a retirement community scrambled at the last minute to evacuate over 300 of its most vulnerable residents and is now being investigated for failing to follow its evacuation plan. To make matters worse, emergency responders were allegedly not notified to help with the evacuation.

Data Privacy

With any system that requires personal information, developing a registry can cause privacy concerns for participants. Agencies incur this burden of responsibility for securely maintaining data provided to them and unfortunately, best practices are often beyond the resources of what agencies can provide. For example, encrypting data, geo-redundant storage facilities with top-tier physical and virtual security, and regular purging processes are not normal capabilities of a county emergency management agency.  Ensuring data security is important to maintaining the public’s trust in providing their personal information.

Public Response

Another challenge with getting vulnerable residents to participate in a Special Needs Registry is the concern of being labeled or singled out. Although the typical Special Needs Registries focus on more traditional definitions (eg. those with mobility limitations and developmental disabilities) there is a clear need to expand the system’s definitions to include the entire community to better protect everyone during emergencies, as well as engage a much broader cross-section of individuals, agencies, and advocacy groups in the public preparedness outreach.

The Town of New Canaan, CT has an innovative approach to Whole Community Preparedness.

Tools and Online Resources for Integrating Vulnerable Populations into Community Infrastructure Resiliency Efforts

Tools and Solutions

There are tools available that can help emergency managers quickly get help to those that need it most during a crisis. For example, the Deputy Director Tom Valdez from Ottawa County, MI said the solution used in Ottawa County, MI to better protect their community during a mass emergency event has been extremely impactful.

When asked about the solution, Valdez responded by saying,  “[The solution’s] database and interactive maps help our dispatchers easily and rapidly identify, communicate, and proactively assist those who most need our help. Combining infrastructure management program resources with community preparedness plans will help emergency managers to better respond during and after a crisis.”

Online Resources

Several resources exist that can help communities develop an all-inclusive community preparedness plan in line with their infrastructure resiliency efforts. FEMA’s concept of Whole Community Preparedness focuses on developing emergency operations plans around the entire community. The CDC also provides some guidance for emergency managers on how to better identify vulnerable populations.


Text From 911: Sending an Emergency Text Message to Save Lives

text from 911 Emergency text message service

Text From 911: How an Emergency Text Message Service is Saving Lives and Driving Efficiency

Written by Noah Reiter
Published on November 17, 2017


In the age of technology, an abundance of emergency text message service tools exist to help 911 call centers quickly send help to a citizen in need. Text-to-911 is one of those important advancements in emergency communications, allowing citizens to reach emergency call takers through text messages. While over 1,200 public-safety answering points (PSAPs) or 911 centers in 44 states have implemented text-to-911, the service still remains widely unused by both citizens and PSAPs.

However, a growing number of enterprising PSAPs are leveraging applications that allow them to send an SMS text to citizens either when voice communications are not possible or to provide operational efficiencies for emergency or non-emergency call processing. This two-way communication practice is referred to as Text from 911 and through the use of enhanced 911 technology, a collection of 911 centers have been applying this strategy to save more lives and conserve resources.

For instance, one widely used tool that enables SMS text from 911 has facilitated the delivery of nearly 300,000 SMS text messages to callers from November 2016 through October 2017. That’s a staggering number that demonstrates the necessity of the Text from 911 functionality. Below is a deep dive into the most common scenarios prompting an emergency telecommunicator to initiate a Text from 911 response.

Abandoned 9-1-1 Calls

Abandoned 9-1-1 calls are the most common use of the Text from 911 feature capability. The scenario is a familiar one to many: a wireless 9-1-1 call is placed and is terminated prior to being answered by the telecommunicator or before 9-1-1 can acquire the necessary information. This prompts a sequence of events that varies slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but it always starts with an attempt to call the 10-digit number back at least once, sometimes twice. When the callback goes unanswered, which some PSAPs anecdotally say happens in 98% or more of their attempts, the telecommunicator will typically leave a voicemail instructing the individual to call again if they need emergency assistance. Here’s where standard operating procedures (SOPs) tend to vary quite a bit.

Most busy law enforcement agencies ask the PSAPs not to dispatch them to the Phase II wireless location (the caller’s approximate location data provided by the wireless carrier) of an abandoned call, unless they were able to make contact with the caller or have another reason to suspect a need for help. Police departments simply don’t have the resources to respond to these types of calls where they are highly unlikely to find the person who dialed 9-1-1 and, if they do, it will turn out to be an accidental or pocket dial the overwhelming majority of the time.

Other law enforcement agencies choose to respond to every wireless abandoned call. This is both a resource-intensive and potentially dangerous pursuit. It’s expensive because most of these responses lead to an unfounded disposition – no reporting party could be located. Those 5-10 minutes that an officer or deputy was responding to the location and searching the area could have been spent responding to another call or, better yet, engaging in proactive or community policing activities. It’s also potentially dangerous because a responding officer has no information about what might be transpiring and unfortunately in the past, some false 9-1-1 calls have been placed to draw an officer to an area to be ambushed.

Here’s where Text from 911 comes into play. After an abandoned call takes place, a voice callback will still be attempted, but at the same time, the telecommunicator can also send a brief templated text message to the wireless number that dialed 9-1-1. Once received, that individual can respond to the telecommunicator, even in areas where text-to-911 is not yet available. The results have been impressive. Some PSAPs report that 20% – 30% of their text messages are answered. That is a rather high percentage, compared to the 1% – 2% of callers who answer the voice call back. The majority of responses report accidental dials and no emergencies, which then allows the PSAP to close out the call without dispatching law enforcement, saving time and operational costs.

In some instances, the abandoned calls turn out to be actual emergencies. Many of these are related to people in domestic or spousal violence situations. The responses to an emergency text message not only provide a dispatchable address but also information about the nature of the emergency, which allows the PSAP to dispatch the right resources to keep first responders safe. In the case of an active assault or domestic incident, text from 911 turns an abandoned call with no dispatch into one with a dispatch of multiple units to a specific location with detailed information such as the suspect description, location, and weapons involved.

Third Party Welfare Checks

Here’s another common scenario:

9-1-1. What’s the location of your emergency?

Caller: I’m worried about <insert family member or friend’s name here>. He has a history of depression, has been drinking and I can’t get a hold of him. I’m worried he might do something to harm himself. Here’s his phone number…


These types of calls strain a PSAP’s resources by requiring the call taker to determine if the individual in question truly is in danger, but if they refuse to answer the phone for a loved one, how likely are they to answer an unknown 10-digit number from the PSAP? Further complicating the telecommunicator’s job is determining whether the caller’s plea for help constitutes grounds for submitting an exigent circumstance location request from the wireless carrier. Even if it does, it will take a long time to have the request fulfilled.

Here’s where Text from 911 comes into play. PSAPs will attempt to send an emergency text message to the person in distress after they fail to answer a voice call. In several of these instances, the person has actually responded to the emergency text message and given enough information for the PSAP to be able to provide them with the assistance they need to keep them from harming themselves.

Referral of Non-Emergency Calls to Citizen Self-Service Portals

Another use case for text from 911 involves providing information already available online for the caller to use to take next steps. When a member of the public calls to report an incident, such as misdemeanor theft, property damage, vandalism or any other type of complaint that the city or county has an online reporting mechanism for, the call taker can send the link to the appropriate website in a text message. The caller is satisfied because they can quickly complete the online form to generate a report and not have to wait an hour or longer for an officer to respond to their low priority complaint. The PSAP benefits as well because it can free up a telecommunicator much more quickly than having to wait for the caller to find a pen and paper and take down a long web address. This represents another operational enhancement with real return on investment by increasing call taker availability and reducing answer times.

Non-Emergency Response Status Updates

Another situation loosely related to the previous example is for PSAPs providing status updates to reporting parties for low priority incidents. Some PSAPs have the practice of contacting the reporting party every 45 minutes for incidents such as property damage to try to keep the individual from calling 9-1-1 again and creating an additional workload. This solution is still time-consuming in an environment that seeks to drive as much operational efficiency as possible. An answer to this is leveraging Text from 911 for the status updates to keep dispatchers from having to provide a more time-consuming update via voice-call and also to prevent additional, unnecessary calls to 9-1-1.

Provide Your Experience with Emergency Text Message Service Tools

The best practices for Text from 911 presented here demonstrate how PSAPs can enhance emergency response and increase operational efficiency. There are certainly other examples not covered here, which will be covered in sessions during the Rave User Summit. Let us know if you’re interested in presenting text from 911 success stories, or register to attend the Summit to learn more about the lifesaving impact of leveraging an emergency text message service.

Orange County and Community Engagement for Public Safety

How Orange County Stays One Step Ahead with Community Engagement for Public Safety


“Orange County has leveraged Rave’s products to not only enhance emergency response, but to also build community engagement for public safety by inviting them to own a part of 911.”



In the historical Orange County of Virginia, Nicole Tidey, Director of the Orange County Emergency Communications Center, is leading emergency management efforts for over 35,000 residents. In this webinar, Nicola discusses how her county unified its community engagement for public safety strategy by leveraging Rave’s 911 Suite and Alert products.

Outlining Orange County’s Emergency Communications Center Structure

Orange County EmergencyCommunicationsCenter Structure_v2Nicola starts the webinar by introducing the Orange County Emergency Communications resources and gives an overview of its structure. Currently, emergency services live in two centers and include:

– 5 Fire Departments
3 Law Enforcement Agencies
3 EMS Agencies

Nicola then talks about how the county is in the process of consolidating its emergency centers into one building and have already begun operating as one 911 center. Nicola’s team captures all types of calls, not just dispatch calls, to understand the workload on the dispatcher, especially with wireless calls as they require action to process that call. Increasing efficiency, reducing response time, and saving lives are all important to Orange County, but just as crucial is getting the community to view the emergency communications center as an invaluable asset.

Increasing Community Engagement By Assigning Ownership

After providing an overview of the Orange County emergency communications structure, Nicola jumped into how her team managed to get their residents to become advocates for filling out Rave’s Smart911 profiles, which is part of the Rave 911 Suite package the county currently uses. Nicola stressed that by framing the Smart911 profiles as “…a piece of 911 that you own”, residents take that ownership to heart and provide key medical information within the secured Smart911 profile system.

Watch clip 1 of 2 to learn more about what made promoting Smart911 profiles to the public so successful.

Experiencing the Priceless Benefits of an Integrated 911 System

Nicola spent a few minutes talking about the Rave 911 Suite being used in the emergency communications center. One of the key features is the SMS texting tool, which is slightly different from the “text-to-911”. Rave’s SMS texting allows the dispatchers to reach out to any mobile number and has even changed their 911 wireless protocols by allowing dispatchers to text 911-hang-ups before taking time to call them back. This has saved the team a lot of time in chasing down what in most cases turns out to be false flags. Nicola also recalls how the SMS texting features helped save seven lives in suicidal or overdose cases.

Nicola mentions another great story of how the Smart911 profile helped save the life of resident, John Nettles, who called 911 while having a heart attack. The two-minute video features Mr. Nettles himself recounting his experience and gratitude to the 911 dispatcher.

Going from 911 Resources to Community-wide Notifications

Nicola ends her presentation by discussing how Orange County will also begin using another tool, Rave Alert, very soon. The tool is currently in the testing phase, but Nicola talks about how easy it is to use to send out community-wide notifications.

Watch clip 2 of 2 to learn more about what Nicola appreciated most about Rave Alert.

Want to learn more?

The full recording of the webinar is less than 30 minutes long and includes more details on how Nicola and her team have been able to save lives and increase efficiency. The Q&A session also includes questions from the webinar audience, including a brief explanation of what Nicola’s biggest challenges have been so far in trying to consolidate two centers. Check it out here or let us know if you’re interested in attending more webinars.


Panic Button System for Schools Saves Lives During Emergencies


How a Panic Button System for Schools is Saving Lives During Violence and Safety Emergencies

Written by Jackson Lucas, Rave Mobile Safety
Published on November 13, 2017

In a recent study on school violence by the Center for Disease Control – Division of Violence Prevention, 16% of K-12 students reported carrying a weapon of some sort to school at least once in the previous month. 5% reported carrying a gun to school over the same time period.

Elementary schools are particularly vulnerable to external safety threats. More than 50% of school violence inside an elementary school involves an adult intruder, compared to just 10% in middle and high schools. On the contrary, middle and high school campuses report a higher incidence of interpersonal student violence, such as fighting and bullying.

While threats to school safety vary across school-aged children, every campus needs innovative emergency technology and comprehensive safety protocols that support rapid response to all safety threats, from medical emergencies to active assailants. Establishing open lines of communication between teachers and staff, school security, and first responders can ensure that everyone in the school stays safe.

Silent Communication Prevents School Shooting

Marion, Arkansas

Last month, Marion County Public Schools and local 911 officials were able to leverage a panic button system for schools in order to keep all students and faculty safe from an active assailant incident. On Thursday, October 5th, shots were fired outside the Marion High School campus. An unnamed witness believed to be tied to the shooter took cover inside a nearby business and dialed 9-1-1. Marion County Emergency Management answered the distress call and knew immediately the shooting had occurred near the school’s campus and that the shooter was still at large. Marion High School’s campus also includes the community’s Intermediate, Middle, and Junior schools, placing an extremely large number of students and staff at risk. Fortunately, emergency management officials were able to alert all schools of the active shooter incident through the Rave Panic Button app. Safety procedures were immediately implemented and the entire campus moved into lockdown mode. All students and staff that were outside at the time of the shooting were quickly moved back inside the school facility where they sheltered in place until receiving the all-clear message.

This is not the first time that Marion County has utilized the Rave Panic Button app to protect students. Just last year a student at Marion High School reported overhearing another student bragging about bringing a gun to school. The teacher immediately clicked the “Active Shooter” button in the app, instantly alerting all faculty and staff while simultaneously dialing 9-1-1. The school’s resource officer was able to respond quickly with a second officer arriving within two minutes. Within 8 minutes, the student and gun were secured and no one was hurt. The school was able to evacuate quickly and everyone on campus remained safe.

Medical Emergencies Also Require Rapid Communication

Limestone County, Alabama

In 2016, Limestone County and Athens City were two of the first school systems in the state of Alabama to adopt an emergency panic button system for schools called Rave Panic Button. Less than a week after the mobile application had gone live, a 10-year old girl experienced head trauma during a seizure and required immediate medical attention. A staff member at the school activated the medical emergency button in the Rave Panic Button app, immediately connecting the individual to 911 while simultaneously notifying the school nurse and administrators of the incident. The young girl was then rushed by helicopter to a nearby hospital for treatment. According to the Elkmont High School Principal Bill Tribble, the app reduced the response time by minutes and enabled doctors to treat the student with the medical care she needed as quickly as possible.

Since last year, over two dozen school violence and student safety emergencies have been mitigated through the app. In many cases, medical attention was needed immediately to assist in incidents of head trauma, unresponsive children, and allergic reactions. In these emergencies, every minute saved during response proved lifesaving for these children.

Athens-Limestone 911 Center Director, Brandon Wallace, recognizes the challenges of school safety, which is why he sought to bring a panic button system for schools to his community.  “Many of our school campuses are large, with multiple entrances, parking lots, and athletic fields,” said Wallace, “this can make it difficult for first responders to know where to go when they arrive on the scene of an emergency.” Before the app, Wallace noted the difficult nature of communication between responding agencies and school officials. “Before the app was implemented, emergency officials would have to make individual calls to school administrators, campus safety officers, the superintendent, and many others during an incident. We would then have to repeat this process every time there was new information to ensure all stakeholders were updated – it was extremely inefficient.” Now disseminating information is much easier, with updates reaching all stakeholders simultaneously, something Wallace describes as “invaluable”.

SNOPAC 9-1-1 Reinvents Panic Button to Locate Missing Child

Snohomish County, Washington

Concerned about the increasing violence in schools around the country, SNOPAC 9-1-1 Emergency Communication sought to implement a panic button system for schools to increase the speed of notifications and emergency response, and most importantly, keep their students safe.

After selecting the Rave Panic Button app, SNOPAC 9-1-1 “accidentally” discovered a use for the app that even the application developers from Rave Mobile Safety hadn’t initially anticipated: locating missing children.

Back in March of last year, an employee of the Snohomish County Public Schools District used Rave Panic Button to immediately contact 9-1-1 to report a missing student. This app activation simultaneously notified all teachers, staff, and school resource officers to issue a missing student alert and included a description of the missing child, key details about the incident, and the originator’s location. According to the FBI, the first three hours are critical to finding a child safe. The ability for school personnel to react rapidly and to communicate effectively with each other and first responders is absolutely critical. Shortly after the notification was delivered, the child was found safe with a family member.

By speeding up the time it takes to report a child missing and communicate their physical description, Snohomish County school officials quickly realized the power of implementing a panic button system for schools app — especially one with features that improve missing child procedures and response protocol.

School Violence and Safety: Challenges and Solutions

In response to the problem of school violence, a number of states formed legislative committees tasked with identifying mechanisms to respond quicker and more effectively when an incident does occur. Key themes from these groups’ work revolve around:

1. Better communication with public safety

2. Ability to identify a threat

3. Call for help as quickly as possible

According to the Rand Corporation’s 2016 report, school safety experts stressed that staff members needed easier and faster access to information, possibly through all-in-one software applications, in order to prevent, reduce, and respond to the entire spectrum of school violence. The panic button system for schools used during the emergency situations in Marion County, Snohomish County, and Limestone County was designed to support this level of rapid communication while providing more information to school staff and first responders. The result of this design is a proven solution that protects school communities in the face of violence and other emergency situations.

Panic button system for schools

Rave Mobile Safety CEO Todd Piett argues that safety protocol and emergency technology needs to support rapid response and plan for the horrific possibility of active assailant incidents, but it also needs to support effective and rapid communication for non-assailant type emergencies such as medical emergencies.

School violence can manifest in many different forms. Public safety officials and school administrators need to come together to leverage solutions that work to protect students against school violence – this partnership is non-negotiable. While safety procedures will be unique to each individual school campus and their needs, access to open communication and rapid emergency response should be a common priority.

Top 3 Reasons Not To Miss The 2018 Rave User Summit

the 2018 rave user summit

3 Reasons Not to Miss the 2018 Rave User Summit

By Crystal Ayco, Rave Mobile Safety

17 years of working in 9-1-1, emergency planning, school and public safety has taught me that the threats we face today are ever changing.  We plan for worst case scenarios but it is impossible to have a specific plan for every potential event. Yet we all live in a world where planes and cars are weapons of mass destruction, snipers can take up a perch in a high story hotel room above a crowd, the internet provides easy instructions on how to build an explosive device and anyone can order a long range, flying drone from a smartphone app to be rushed to their doorstep.  Oh, and all of these potential threats represent just a small fraction of the actual emergencies we plan for, handle and manage on a regular basis.

Fortunately, the 2018 Rave User Summit provides countless opportunities to learn new skills, master best practices, and solve challenging problems. I’ve outlined the top three reasons any safety or security professional would benefit from joining us in Denver in April, 2018.

1. Out of the Box Problem Solving

The Annual Rave User Summit brings those tasked with the safety of others together to share ideas, best practices and learn how to better leverage Rave’s innovative technologies in data and communication to mitigate and respond to a crisis.  At every Rave User Summit I have attended as both a customer and a Raver, I have seen countless examples where someone came to the room with a problem and immediately benefited from another attendee who had refined a solution.  There is something amazing about the synergy in a room full of peers all trying to solve the same, dynamic problems.  While Corporate Security, Emergency Managers, Campus Safety and Public Safety officials face different challenges and resource limitations, we all are responsible for the safety of a community and are tasked with solving problems. We all share in the same need to be effective and efficient when handling all emergencies and also cannot waste time trying to reinvent the wheel when trying to achieve our mission.

2. Hear from Your Peers

In addition to the growing community represented at the RaveUser Summit, we are expanding the 2018 agenda to include more customer-led “hear from your peers” sessions. The real word lessons shared during last year’s sessions including “Planning for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration” and “Partnering with Business and Schools for Safety” enabled our customers to share their experience and actionable insights. If you have a topic you’d like to share, please submit your speaker proposal at www.ravesummit.com. We’d love to hear from you.

3. Hands-on Product Training

We will also offer pre-Summit hands-on product training, in response to feedback from the 2017. The dedicated product sessions will enable our users to learn best practices, try new features, and ensure they are getting the most out of their Rave products.

Share and Discover at the 2018 Rave User Summit

As a former Rave customer, and now as a Customer and Product Success Manager, I appreciate the value of great out-of-the-box thinking to discover efficiencies critical to increasing effectiveness in handling day-to-day emergencies and communicating during large-scale disasters. Share and discover how your peers are solving everyday challenges you may face.  Collaborate with us at Rave by providing critical input on enhancements and products in early development.  We are all better prepared when we prepare together.

Come join Rave’s customer community of Public Safety, Security and Emergency Management professionals to learn and share best practices by attending the 2018 Rave User Summit. Register and submit your session proposal through www.RaveSummit.com . I hope to see you there!

Protecting Church Soft Targets after the 2017 Texas Church Massacre

protecting church soft targets

Protecting Church Soft Targets after Gunman Killed 26 People in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas

Written by Andrea Lebron, Rave Mobile Safety
Published on November 6, 2017


church soft targets after texas church massacre
Image above is of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, TX

On the morning of November 5, 2017, a small Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas was attacked by a lone gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley. The shooter claimed the lives of 26 people and injured 24 more, while countless others were left to wonder how such a heinous crime could strike in such a small, peaceful town. The massacre in Sutherland Springs is the largest mass shooting in state history, and unfortunately, this incident was not the Nation’s first tragedy to strike at a house of worship.

In the aftermath, residents, law enforcement, and other safety officials are questioning how best to prevent and respond to attacks on vulnerable community spaces, as what occurred in the First Baptist Church in Texas. While the task of safeguarding state and local communities is increasingly daunting in the face of recent tragedies, one thing is for sure: There has to be a better way of protecting churches and other soft targets.

Industry experts believe there are patterns that are identifiable in men that kill. Economic anxiety and male identity issues are among them. Mental illness is another trait that is widely considered in cases where an act of mass violence has been committed. However, it’s important to note that every incident is unique, and Kelley may have had other reasons for committing violence that go beyond the “norm” or perceived patterns.

What are Soft Targets?

To understand threats posed to houses of worship and religious facilities, it is important to define “soft targets” and see what makes them susceptible to intimidation and acts of violence. Soft targets are defined as locations where people gather in groups and in spaces that are not secured like airports with metal detectors and armed security. Places like public libraries, malls, and movie theaters, as well as houses of worship, provide access to anyone who wishes to enter. This welcoming environment makes churches, synagogues, and mosques particularly vulnerable to attack. In the Sutherland Springs case, sadly, several families were in attendance at the morning service because Sunday School had just ended.

Why Did the Texas Gunman Target a Church on November 5, 2017?

Kelley’s attack was not a random act of violence, and appears to have been motivated by religious hatred. The assailant was dishonorably discharged from the air force, and had a history of domestic abuse toward his former wife and child. Though he was not a member of the First Baptist Church where the assault took place, he was familiar and had ties to it through family members and former classmates.

Kelley’s social media accounts were filled with hateful comments and posts targeting religious supporters and activists.  Based on the information collected thus far, authorities do not believe Kelley was linked to an organized group of terrorism, and his obsessive hatred toward religion was likely the motivation behind the massacre. Historically, mass violence in churches is usually motivated by religious intolerance. In fact, 20% of the annual total reported hate crimes are religiously motivated, which makes places of worship even more vulnerable to attack.

J. Anthony Hernandez, 12, is comforted by his mother, Mona Rodriguez, during a vigil for mass shooting victims, outside the post office in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Nov. 5, 2017. A gunman wearing all black and a ballistic vest killed at least 26 people and injured at least 20 more at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. (Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

How Did He Get His Weapons?

The events in Sutherland Spring have reignited a divisive argument about gun control. The attack on the First Baptist Church occurred less than a month after 58 people were killed at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, the deadliest shooting in United States history. Kelley was carrying multiple weapons, and the gun he used to kill 26 people and injure 24 others was a Ruger AR-15 variant, though it is unclear as to how he managed to obtain the assault rifle or if he used a bump-stock similar to what Stephen Paddock used to modify his firing rate in the Las Vegas shooting. Kelley had several other weapons in his vehicle and was also carrying a handgun.

It’s unclear how Kelley managed to obtain so many deadly weapons.  Kelley had applied for a right-to-carry permit, but was denied because of his dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force. While Kelley likely bought the handgun illegally, it is legal to purchase and openly carry an unregistered rifle without a permit in the state of Texas. It’s not apparent at this time whether or not Texas lawmakers will reexamine these legislative loopholes.

While gun-control is a controversial matter, and even legislators are divided over the issues, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recommended parishioners arm themselves in response to the incident. This statement is potentially in response to local civilian and national hero, Stephen Willeford, who used a similar rifle to shoot back at Kelley as he attempted to flee the scene in an pearl-coated Ford SUV, preventing him from killing dozens more. As the gunman leaped into the SUV, Willeford waved down another civilian across the street and jumped into the passenger side of his truck while screaming for the man to follow the SUV.  The car chase lasted over ten minutes and eventually came to a halt when the gunman crashed. Moments later, police found the gunman dead in the driver’s seat from what appeared to be a self-inflicted bullet wound.

What Can We Do to Protect Our Church Soft Targets?

A challenge congregations face when attempting to secure their facilities lies in the historical nature of many religious buildings. Frequently, religious buildings are designated historical landmarks, which often results in restrictions on how the facade and interior can be modified. To protect community members as they gather to practice their faith, the use of technology has proven to facilitate a safer environment such as a panic button mobile app for faster coordination with police or an anonymous tip-texting tool that aims to prevent potentially dangerous situations from happening in the first place.

Rightfully so, Texas is taking on a stronger approach to protect their congregations through the use of armed security volunteers. Texas is one of several states that have passed laws to waive state requirements on armed security detail training, licensing and background checks.

Similar to houses of worship in the state of Texas, Bishop Darnell Dixon of Raleigh, NC believes the best way to protect his church is with armed defenders. After Sundays massacre in Texas, Dixon told CBS News “If I call people together, it is incumbent on me to make sure that they are safe.”

There are examples to suggest this strategy works. For instance, the gunman that attacked church goers in Colorado Springs in 2007 was shot and killed by an armed security member inside the church. Other states, including Mississippi, are following Texas’s lead to reduce the requirements needed to hire staff armed security in a house of worship.


Related Articles:

Manhattan Terror Attack: Vehicle or Weapon of Mass Destruction?

Attacks in Paris, Orlando, Dallas, Nice: What Did We Learn?

Running Towards The San Diego Mass Shooting

What Does a Crisis Management Plan Mean for Cities Like Miami?

Five Security Trends Boosting Event Safety


How GE Appliances Performed Employee Wellness Checks During Major Hurricanes

hurricane employee wellness checks webinar recap


How GE Appliances Performed Employee Wellness Checks During Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria


“By pushing for a more efficient way to locate employees throughout a catastrophe, GE Appliances was better able to perform hurricane employee wellness checks during the devastating 2017 hurricane season.”


GE Appliances security leaders Keith Carpenter, Senior Security Manager, and Stefan Brown, Security Director, presented a webinar on how the company performed hurricane employee wellness checks during the Harvey, Irma and Maria natural disaster events.

Stefan starts off by explaining how GE Appliances’ main goal was to transform their existing emergency notification system to go beyond severe weather alerts and into a communication system of the future.

Watch clip 1 of 4 to learn more about why GE Appliances plans to build a better notification system.


Taking a Proactive Stance on Employee Wellness Checks

Keith then jumps in to discuss how his security team took a proactive stance during Hurricane Harvey by using their alerting system to ensure the wellness of employees in their Louisville, KY headquarters. The team worked with Human Resources to identify employees’ contact information that would be used to deliver messages through SMS and email twice a day – requiring that employees respond if they were safe. GE Appliances expanded the employee wellness checks to their facilities in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Puerto Rico for Hurricanes Irma and Maria that struck land shortly after Harvey.

Watch clip 2 of 4 to learn about GE Appliances’ lessons-learned during Hurricane Harvey and the importance of being proactive.



Learning and Growing are Part of the Process

One of the most difficult lessons that Keith and his security team learned was the importance of keeping employee contact information up-to-date. The GE Appliances security team ended up scrambling at the last minute before sending out messages to double check that all necessary employees were on the list. GE Appliances is working to resolve this issue through an internal campaign requesting that employees update their contact information. Keith also cautions other facility administrators and security teams to consider the impact of being unprepared for weather or natural disasters and encourages all to leverage the power of technology in these situations.

Another major lesson learned by the GE Appliances security team regarded their needs associated with the alerting system. Keith found there wasn’t an easy way to track the employees that had not responded to the hurricane employee wellness checks, which forced him to manually maintain a list in a spreadsheet of the employees that had responded to identify the ones that hadn’t. This was also a lesson learned for Rave Mobile Safety, the provider of GE Appliance’s mass notification system, and prompted the development of a new polling feature. This polling feature will roll out in early 2018 and will allow Rave Alert customers to send a URL to their contacts that links to a web-based poll, which enables the contacts to confirm their safety and share their web-based location data, if they chose to. Likewise, new Rave Alert polling feature will allow HR and safety professionals to more efficiently perform hurricane employee wellness checks.

Watch clip 3 of 4 to learn more about why GE Appliances plans to build a better notification system.



How to get Started with Mass Notification Systems

An audience member asked how a company could get started with developing and implementing a mass notification system. Keith took on the question and revealed several factors for security leaders to consider before using similar notification systems. Here is the list of factors Keith mentioned:

1. Organization size
2. Scope of your mass notification needs
3. Communication goals
4. Audience or Participants (hourly versus salary employees)
5. Control over communication tools (company versus personal cell phones)
6. Determine the overall purpose for the mass notification tool by answering the following questions:

– Is it only for emergencies?
– Will it expand to less urgent business communications?
– Can it be used for polling the employee population?

Watch clip 4 of 4 to learn more about why GE Appliances plans to build a better notification system.



Take Advantage of Close-Knit Employee Communities

One last piece of advice that Keith shared regarding his experience in expanding notification capabilities was what made employee outreach successful in Puerto Rico, even when so many local residents were without power or residents had no form of communication. GE Appliances leveraged the close-knit communities that many employees have built after years of working together. By reaching out to the managers in Puerto Rico and asking them to identify the status of their team members, several employees were accounted for despite the lack of communication available.

Want to learn more?

The full recording of the webinar is about 30 minutes long, but includes additional insight into how GE Appliances successfully navigated employee notifications during three hurricanes. A sneak peek of the interface similar to the one GE Appliances used and an extensive Q&A session are also included. Check it out here or let us know if you’re interested in attending more webinars.

Manhattan Terror Attack: Vehicle or Weapon of Mass Destruction?

Manhattan Terror Attack Emergency Response vehicle weapon

Manhattan Terror Attack: Emergency Response Strategy to Cars Being Used as Weapons of Mass Destruction

Written by Devan Weed & Noah Reiter, Rave Mobile Safety

Published on October 31, 2017

On October 31, 2017, a 29-year-old male drove a Home Depot pickup truck through a biking path along the Hudson River in New York City, killing eight people and injuring 11 others.The driver, whom police have now identified as Sayfullo Saipov, crashed into a school bus, left the vehicle shouting and holding a paintball and pellet gun, and was shot in by law enforcement. The suspect is alive in custody and in critical condition, and Tuesday evening, Mayor Bill De Blasio declared the incident a terrorist attack. The vehicular rampage on Tuesday is, sadly, not the first of its kind. The New York City attack is one of many acts of car-related violence that occurred not in the past year, but just this month.

In the wake of this tragedy, law enforcement and public officials must ask the question – how could one foresee an everyday object being used as a killing machine? The answer is complicated. Federal Investigators found handwritten notes in Arabic near the vehicle that indicated the attack was motivated by the Islamic State, and it was revealed on Wednesday that Saipov was under investigation for an unrelated incident. However, at this time investigative authorities have not found evidence of direct ties to ISIS. According to the New York Times, counter-terrorism investigators are treating the incident as “a case of inspired attacker”. The fact that many of these incidents are perpetrated by lone wolf attackers make them, by nature, more difficult to anticipate.

In addition to the Manhattan terror attack, here is an incomplete list of the attacks that involved vehicles used as weapons:

–  July 14, 2016: A man drove a large truck two kilometers along the main street in Nice, mowing down people who had gathered to watch fireworks and killing 80 people

–  November 28, 2016: A man drove a truck into a campus building at Ohio State University, then stepped out of the van and attempted to stab nearby witnesses; 13 people were injured

–  August 12, 2017: A 20-year-old man drove his car through a large crowd in Charlottesville, VA; one person was killed and more than 19 others were injured

–  August 17, 2017: A van plowed through crowds of people on a busy street in Barcelona, killing 14 people and more than 100 others were injured

–  August 23, 2017: A man drove his car through a group of protestors in St. Louis, MO; victims walked away with minor injuries

–  October 7, 2017: A motorist plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in a busy London tourist area injuring 11 people

–  October 26, 2017: A group of immigration policy demonstrators in Brea, California were struck by a man in his car; victims experienced minor injuries

–  October 31, 2017: A 29-year-old male drove his truck onto a biking and walking path in Manhattan killing 8 people and injuring many others (the total number of people injured is still unknown)

Prevention Tactics

Federal and local agencies are somewhat limited in their ability to prevent a low-tech attack perpetrated by a lone terrorist, such as what occurred in Manhattan on Tuesday. When the target is a civilian setting like a city street, bike path or other publicly accessible location, it becomes even more difficult to prevent these situations.  However, at locations with controlled access, such as festivals, school campuses, and business facilities, attacks can be mitigated or prevented through the use of physical security measures such as vehicle barriers, walls, and boundaries between guests and outside attackers.

It is also critical that the public is able to take responsibility for their personal safety as well. For instance, there is power in eliminating distractions. While it may not always be possible to escape a violent attack, individuals need to be equipped to react quickly in situations such as the vehicular attack Tuesday. When the driver exited the vehicle near the Hudson River, citizens reportedly shouted out to warn others that the man was potentially armed and to get to safety. If people are able to remove hindering objects such as smart devices, headphones, written materials and be on high alert, pedestrians can help minimize the toll of these attacks.

The Manhattan terror attack on Tuesday were not the first time an assailant exited the vehicle and was armed in a public space. In November 2016, a terrorist at Ohio State University crashed a truck into a campus building, left the vehicle, and attempted to continue the attack armed with a knife. These are scenarios where communication technology can provide crucial information. By opting into the emergency notification system used by your local homeland security or campus police, emergency management, and law enforcement officials are able to help citizens and residents stay updated on any major incidents, threats, and developments requiring action.

Immediate Response Strategy

The best way for a city, county, university, or business organization to plan ahead for this type of incident is through effective communications. It is critical that safety professionals actively control the dissemination of immediate and follow-up information through multiple mass notification channels including email, phone, and social media to control any rumors and provide timely instructions and updates.

During the Manhattan terror attack multiple agencies, including the NYPD, paramedics, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, responded to the scene to neutralize the threat and render medical aid as quickly as possible. If the city prevents confusion and contradictory statements to the public and/or media, there must be an enhanced interoperable communication strategy in place, and there are systems available that allow for both better internal communication as well as enhanced on-scene incident awareness that are designed to assist in these areas.

The Manhattan terror attack that killed eight people occurred in the immediate proximity of several New York City schools. “We heard people screaming ‘gun’ ‘shooter’ and ‘run away’” Sirus Minovi, a 14-year old student who was near the attack, told the New York Times. “We thought it was a Halloween prank.” Luckily, Minovi and other students in the area were able to assess and understand the threat, but his story does demonstrate the need for effective communication.

The schools were put on lockdown following the truck attack and students were not sent home until the danger passed. While the nearby students prove a sobering reality about these attacks, the institutions’ rapid response and ability to protect young students highlight the importance of constant and proactive coordination between local schools, businesses, and public safety to ensure measures are put in place that will enable timely, information-rich communication and minimize further damage.

Empower & Educate Bystanders

Another area of consideration is to empower the bystanders already at the scene. Stop the Bleed is a national campaign that was launched by the White House in 2015.  On the campaign webpage, the awareness event is “intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.” Meaning, with the appropriate training, witnesses to an attack can help keep victims alive before emergency responders arrive.

Take the Boston Marathon Bombing for example — while there were hundreds of people critically injured at the scene, there were also dozens of bystanders that ran toward the explosions to help and whose actions directly saved lives. The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas also demonstrated the compassion and heroic nature of others. Despite the risk or danger, bystanders were ready to help others to safety and apply pressure to wounds with severe bleeding.

The “See Something, Say Something” methodology can also be applied in this case, especially in controlled areas such as a college campus. For instance, a higher education community can empower its students and staff members to use their mobile devices as a tool to anonymously communicate the details of an incident and submit photos to campus police. 

Citizens rely on government and law enforcement organizations to protect them in the instance of an attack, even one involving premeditated vehicular destruction, as was the Manhattan terror attack on Tuesday.  While information is key in preventing these attacks, there are steps that law enforcement agencies, local governments, and even civilians can take to increase personal security and minimize the damage if such a situation should occur.

This story is developing and updates will be provided on the Manhattan terror attack emergency response efforts as more information becomes available.


Related Articles:

Attacks in Paris, Orlando, Dallas, Nice: What Did We Learn?

Running Towards The San Diego Mass Shooting

What Does a Crisis Management Plan Mean for Cities Like Miami?

Five Security Trends Boosting Event Safety


What Can We Learn from Recent Acts of Terrorism?

Recent acts of terrorism

What Can We Learn from Recent Acts of Terrorism?

Recent acts of terrorism around the world highlight the valuable roll technology can play in emergency response, while also identifying areas for improvement.

Written by Todd Piett

Published on October 31, 2017

Social Media for Mass Communications in Orlando

During the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, social media played a powerful role in communication for the city police department and the nightclub owners.  Approximately 11 minutes into the shooting, Pulse posted an urgent message on their Facebook page telling people to get out of the club “and keep on running.”

While I don’t know if this message was successful in notifying those unaware of the shooting, the situation is eerily reminiscent of the Bataclan theatre massacre in Paris, last November when three terrorists stormed the historical venue with high-powered assault rifles, shooting everyone in their path.  For the people trapped inside the Bataclan, Facebook became a communication lifeline.

In addition to Facebook, Twitter has proven an effective tool during a widespread emergency.  For instance, the Orlando PD used Twitter multiple times throughout the night to post warnings and share updates with on-lookers, victims, and the general public.  At 3:58am, or about 2 hours into the shooting, Orlando PD tweeted, telling everyone to stay away from the area.  In a clearly well-coordinated operation, at 5:05 am, just as an explosion was detonated inside the building, Orlando PD posted to Twitter stating the loud noise was a controlled explosion and to “Please avoid reporting inaccuracies at this time.”

At Rave, our emergency mass notification product, Rave Alert, is regularly used to programmatically post to various social media sites utilized by our customers.  Over time, this has become a pretty standard process; however, the close coordination between the communication team handling social media and the tactical teams during the Orlando response is a great learning point for all agencies.

recent acts of terrorism

Facebook Safety Check in Nice, France

The Facebook Safety Check is a feature that has allowed individuals to connect with friends and loved ones during recent acts of terrorism. The social communication feature was initiated and used extensively during the Bastille Day attacks in Nice, France.  This event marked a change to the criteria which Facebook uses to initiate the feature.  Here’s how Facebook Safety Check works:

  • The feature is quickly activated by Facebook in the wake of a natural or man made disaster.
  • Upon activation, users in the designated incident area or those who have listed that area in their profile, receive a Facebook notification asking if they’re safe.
  • Users have the option to respond stating they are outside the affected area or “I’m Safe”. The response generates a notification and is added to the users’ News Feed, which can be viewed by friends. Friends can also mark other users as safe.

At present, public safety agencies have no means to solicit Facebook to turn on the check-in feature for emergencies.  Facebook alone determines which events are worthy of activating Safety Check.

Facebook Safety Check can be valuable providing comfort to loved ones. It also can reduce the burden on already overloaded public safety communications infrastructure.  By reducing calls to 9-1-1 (or 112 in this case) that deflect critical resources and reducing the number of individuals that “self dispatch” to check on loved ones, the safety of everyone involved can be improved.


Other interesting “check in” type technologies that have the potential to provide visibility into the safety and status of friends in a more dynamic manner include:

  • Glympse – simple way to share your location in real time with friends and family
  • Life360 – a family locator, messaging tool and communication app all in one
  • Rave Guardian – create a location-aware virtual safety network of friends, family, and police


Digital Floor Plan Access During Stand-offs

Unlike most Active Shooter events over the past 2 decades, the recent acts of terrorism at the Pulse Nightclub and Dallas, TX involved protracted stand-offs.  Initial reports had the Dallas shooter holed up in a parking structure. However, subsequent reports made it clear that 25-year-old Micah Johnson had moved to an El Centro Community College building in downtown Dallas.  For about 4½ hours, Johnson hid around a corner near the end of a long, narrow hallway of classrooms on the second floor of El Centro’s Building B. While navigating toward him, police attempted to negotiate before finally killing him with an explosive delivered by a robot.

Similarly, in Orlando, police actively negotiated with the shooter, Omar Mateen, for nearly 40 minutes between 2:48 and 3:24 am.  They then began a series of maneuvers, which helped some trapped victims to escape and culminated when officers breached the building and killed the shooter at 5:15 am.

After the events, images of both crime scenes show investigators consulting floor plans as they gather evidence.  I couldn’t help but wonder how they got those floor plans.  In Dallas, police from El Centro Community College were actively engaged in the incident and surely provided some level of tactical intelligence. However, I’d be very surprised if during the traumatic events occurring in the middle of the night in the Orlando nightclub, the officers had anything more than spotty descriptions of the building interior provided by distraught witnesses.  These events demonstrate the importance of providing tactical intelligence before dangerous situations unfold.

Smart911Facility, for example, securely hosts thousands of floor plans for various structure types across the US. Launched in 2015, Smart911Facility ensures facility information is readily available to responders directly in the field on their mobile data computers (MDCs) and phones.  Because building owners manage Smart911Facility information themselves the model is scalable. It ensures agencies and first responders have floor plans for an entire property, right down to individual units (or nightclubs).


While technology advancements can present challenges to 9-1-1 and first responders (such as the 47% of cellphone-only households in the United States), it’s important we take advantage of modern tools to facilitate response and communication during a crisis. For instance, consider using social media for mass communication, and equipping responders with essential facility information to heighten field awareness (thus improving responder safety) and reduce the overall response time.


Intermedix and Rave Mobile Safety Expand Partnership to Enhance Incident Management for Higher Education

eICS and Rave Alert Connect to Enhance Situational Awareness and Emergency Response Efforts on College Campuses


NASHVILLE, Tenn. and FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Intermedix and Rave Mobile Safety announced Tuesday a new partnership integrating the companies’ emergency notification and crisis information management platforms to increase incident management and communications efforts across higher education institutions.

“Regional collaboration and integrated communication are key components of effective emergency response—especially on our nation’s college campuses,” said Sam Klietz, senior vice president of business development at Intermedix. “The integration of eICS and Rave Alert is another example of our commitment to provide all emergency preparedness personnel with the tools they need when they are needed most.”

eICS for Higher Education, a web-based incident management system, provides emergency management teams at universities and colleges enhanced visibility into resource availability and response activities. eICS improves operational resiliency at college campuses by allowing users to document and manage events based on their needs and requirements, while simultaneously disseminating key details to local jurisdictions to create optimal situational awareness.

eICS also creates transparency from a government standpoint, by having the ability to connect and instantly share information with WebEOC, the industry-leading incident management software.

Rave Alert mass notification system enables thousands of educational institutions, businesses, and state and local governments to send alerts and two-way communications with entire populations in minutes. Rave Alert uses all preferred communication modes (mobile phones, landlines, email, text messages, digital signage, and IPAWS-OPEN) to quickly deliver critical information from any internet connected device. Built on Rave’s public safety grade infrastructure, Rave Alert delivers millions of alerts daily to the right people, before, during and after emergencies.

The Rave Alert Extension for eICS provides mass notification capabilities to the incident management software. Through the integration, targeted and mass alerts can be sent from eICS, and the incident creation processes can be initiated within Rave Alert.

“Our goal is to provide colleges and universities with the most effective way to communicate while they manage on-going incidents,” president and CEO Todd Piett. “This integration is a key component of enhancing resilience at universities, and meeting the requirements set forth by the Clery Act by providing a common operational picture.”

Demonstrations of the extension will be available for attendees of the 2017 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference on October 31 at booth #1644.

Upgraded Incident Management Solution Bolsters Campus Safety and Communication

incident management solution eics


Incident Management Solution for Better Campus Safety and Communication

A new software integration delivers a better and more effective incident management solution to enhance situational awareness and response efforts on college campuses

Written by Sam Klietz, Senior Vice President of Global Business Development at Intermedix
Published on October 26, 2017

A Web-based Incident Management Solution

Intermedix, a Rave Mobile Safety strategic partner, announced the release of eICS for Higher Education, a web-based incident management solution that provides universities and colleges with the tools they need to plan for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and pre-planned events of any scale.

The eICS incident management solution promotes one common operating picture that can be shared with both university personnel and outside agencies using existing integrations with WebEOC. Integration between eICS and WebEOC allows a university to seamlessly and directly share data with community partners who use an existing WebEOC instance.

Intermedix is a proud Rave partner and industry leader in the Emergency Preparedness space and our solutions are relied upon by customers all over the world in industries such as banking, insurance, academia, energy, transportation, health and local/national government. We are excited to work with Rave Mobile Safety to introduce our latest solution, eICS for Higher Education, created with your campus’s ever-changing needs and populations in mind.

We’re excited to share the top five features of eICS for Higher Education:

1. Notification Integration and Automation

eICS delivers automated notifications, allowing administrators to focus on the event at hand rather than spending additional effort in tracking down and contacting university resources. Users can be categorized and grouped to be notified for the types of events that require their involvement. Additionally, through eICS’ integration with Rave Alert, universities have the ability to send out targeted or mass notifications in real time to the campus community through phones, email, text, social media and more. Administrators can coordinate with on-campus staff, and emergency responders by collecting real-time alert and poll responses to adjust in your incident management solution.

2. Event Logging and Documentation Management

eics event logging

Through the electronic event log, users can document and track all aspects of an event taking place within their campus, in addition to those occurring at their satellite locations. The log not only serves to record events for compliance documentation, but also allows you to review and confirm the incident timeline. Having the ability to monitor and oversee these types of situations in one system is essential to ensuring campus-wide safety.

3. Web-based ICS Response Guides

The eICS incident management solution allows universities to create incident response guides (IRG) that are based on NIMS and ICS standards and can be tailored to address existing emergency management plans. Response guides help define the mission, objectives and assignments that will direct your organization’s response during an incident.

4. Position Assignment and Responsibilities

eICS, an incident management solution, offers exceptional flexibility in configuring your university’s command structure. The ICS Chart is scalable to your unique needs and allows for customization and group building throughout all stages of response. As individuals are assigned to positions, the solution automatically allocates the appropriate tasks and objectives, so each individual immediately knows their responsibilities

5. After Action Reports and Improvement Plans

eICS reports, ICS forms, and even after action reports are available on demand to aid your institution’s recovery efforts and documentation requirements. In your incident management solution, common incident elements are automatically populated when a standard form or report is generated, including the incident name, date, time and operational period.

Ready to learn more about the eICS incident management solution? Learn more by scheduling a demo.


About Intermedix

Intermedix provides quality preparedness and response technology solutions for daily and emergency operations. Academic institutions, federal organizations and healthcare facilities rely on Intermedix to meet their incident management, operational and emergency notification needs. Intermedix provides an all-in-one solution for mass communication that includes emergency notification, social media monitoring, sever weather alerts, and mobile apps for users.

For more information, please go to www.intermedix.com.


About the Author

Sam Klietz is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development at Intermedix. He has spent the past 10 years focusing his efforts on the leveraging of preparedness, response and recovery technologies to address the needs of tomorrow’s resilience today. As a member of senior leadership for the Intermedix emergency preparedness division, Sam is responsible for overseeing worldwide market development in national, regional and local government, defense, healthcare, oil and gas, higher education, transportation and other commercial industries. Sam obtained his bachelor’s degree in human biology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and his masters of business administration at Marquette University with international graduate study at the Graduate School of Management in France and the National University of Ireland.


The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics


The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

 by Andrea Lebron


Below are the latest workplace violence statistics broken down by incident demographics, reasons, financial burdens, and a closer look at active shooter statistics in the workplace.

Workplace Violence Statistics Demographics

–  Every year, nearly 2 million U.S. workers will become victims of workplace violence

–  The healthcare industry makes up 9% of the U.S. workforce, yet healthcare professionals experience more workplace violence injuries than all other industries combined

–  Out of all 7 possible causes of death at the workplace, homicides make up 9%

–  The third leading cause of death for workers in the healthcare and professional services industries (education, law and media) is due to workplace violence

–  For women, workplace violence is the second leading cause of death while on the job

–  In 2014, almost 16,000 workers experienced workplace violence and 69% were in the healthcare and social assistance industry

–  30,000 rape or sexual assaults occur to women at work each year

–  As of 2013, 19% or most workplace violence injuries occurred in California and Texas


Reason for Workplace Violence

–  There have been 150 employee-on-employee killings since 2010

–  2 out of 3 workplace homicides are committed by someone not close to the victim

–  21 percent of workplace homicide perpetrators are co-workers

–  Robberies account for 85% of workplace violence deaths

–  Employees with potential to commit workplace violence tend to exhibit 8 behaviors such as acting out of character or exhibiting addictive habits

workplace violence statistics

Workplace Violence Financial Data

–  $3 or more is saved for each dollar invested in workplace safety:

–  $121 billion annual losses are attributed to workplace assaults

–  Domestic violence issues that are brought to the workplace cost nearly $727 million in lost productivity

–  Workplace catastrophes such as violent incidents have caused publicly-traded companies to lose close to 8% in shareholder value

–  Lawsuits associated with workplace violence cost companies an average of $500,000 for out-of-court settlements


Workplace Shootings, Active Shooters

–  Out of all mass shootings since 1966, 27% occurred at workplaces

–  70% of all active shooter incidents are within a commerce/business or educational setting

–  96% of active shooters are lone males

–  40% of active shooter assailants commit suicide

–  Approximately 25% of companies are unprepared for active shooter incidents

–  In 2014 and 2015, police exchanged gun-fire with the assailant in 14 active shooter incidents

–  In nearly half of active shooter incidents, police are unable to respond under 10 minutes


Successful Community Alerting Through Widespread Local Engagement

community alerting


” A community alerting system is only as effective as the number of people registered in your database.”

— Nick Holloway, Missoula County OEM Projects Coordinator

CLICK HERE to watch  the 30-minute webinar


In remote areas of America, it is crucial to place emphasis on community alerting. An effective alert system requires constant encouragement to receiving communities for sign ups. This is exactly what Nick Holloway does for his community, Missoula MT.

Holloway, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Projects Coordinator, is responsible for outreach and promoting community emergency readiness as well as public education for the Smart911 program.

Missoula County is 2,618 mi2 and has a large range in both topography and demography consisting of a city, multiple rural towns, and valleys. Because of these large ranges, there are many weather-related events such as wildfires, floods, windstorms etc, that warrants mass notification.

Individuals are not only left susceptible to the elements when they do not take part in the alert system but animals as well. Rural towns give way for farmland; should there be a disaster the animals would be negatively affected.

A Rave customer since 2012, Missoula leverages the Rave 911 Suite for additional emergency call data and Rave Alert for community alerting and mass notification to act as barriers of protection for their community against disasters. Because of this, it is imperative that members of Missoula County are subscribed to their community alerting system.

The success of an alert depends on the number of individuals signed up to receive it. The success of an individual’s subscription to an alert system falls on the promotion of the system. Without proper engagement on the behalf of the OEM, the security system will fail in getting the word out and urgency of mass notification will be lost.

To hear more from Nick Holloway and his experiences during widespread emergencies and keeping his community engaged, click here to access the full 30 minute webinar.

How Technology Will Help Manage Campus Safety On Halloween

campus safety on halloween


Trick-or-Tech: Here’s How Technology Can Help Manage Campus Safety On Halloween

By Mary Kate McGrath, Rave Mobile Safety

Campus Safety on Halloween 2017

On October 31st, Campus Safety officials are likely to be on high alert. Halloween poses a variety of security risks for colleges; the holiday is notorious for increased instances of vandalism, and alcohol-related injuries are also common. Costumes and theft pose potential dangers as well. The security risks may vary depending on the location of the institution, but for emergency managers in higher education, preparing for any scenario is essential. There are many ways that campus officials can plan for increased security risks around holiday activities. On Halloween, campus officials are able to leverage communication technology to keep students safe.

In the United States, crime rates generally spike on Halloween. James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University, found that crime is highest on three holidays – New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, and Halloween. However, the extent of this spike varies greatly depending on the region and day that the holiday falls on. If October 31st lands on a weekend, people are more likely to stay out later, dress up, and consume alcohol, and reported crime rates do tend to be higher.

However, the holiday’s mythology, role in popular culture, and certain urban myths might be contributing to an inflated sense of danger.  Many law enforcement professionals argue the day feels no more or less dangerous than any other, but that doesn’t mean preparedness isn’t beneficial.  Nor does it mean that residents feel any safer. A study in 2015 found that only 37% of adults don’t have any safety concerns on Halloween, including vandalism, drunk driving, and theft. Students might be feeling nervous on the holiday, and technology can empower them to manage their own safety as well.

What Are The On-Campus Risks?

Halloween crime rates might draw concern from students and safety professionals in higher education. It’s important to understand the genuine risks on the holiday, and vandalism is reportedly a top concern when it comes to Halloween related incidents. According to reports by the Highway Loss Data Institute, Triple AAA, and insurance providers, cars are twice as likely to be vandalized on Halloween. Campus buildings and other public spaces are susceptible to as well. While property damage might not be of the utmost concern to all students, campus safety officials can encourage campus residents to put in an anonymous report or tip regarding any instances of defacement they witness.

One of the greatest health threats on Halloween is pedestrian-related incidents, and all students should use caution when traveling on foot whether it’s on or off campus. If possible, campus safety officials should be available for students hoping to avoid or report potential drunk driving scenarios. Luckily, for each of these risks, there is relevant technology available for campus safety officials looking to minimize student emergencies.

Personal-Safety Apps

The most valuable technology to boost campus safety on Halloween for each individual is a personal safety app. In a survey of  1,000 millennials conducted by Rave Mobile Safety, 76% had avoided an activity due to safety concerns and 90% said they felt safer when they have their mobile smartphone (click here for more data collected in this survey).

The next generation, Generation Z, is even more likely to rely on technology. A personal security device is a simple way for officials and students to increase campus security, especially on a holiday with safety risks. The Rave Guardian app or similar technology can increase security for anyone roaming on or off campus on October 31st, allowing students to inform friends of their location and contact the appropriate authorities quickly in an emergency.

Blue-light phone boxes offer a similar connection to campus authorities and have been a mainstay on college campuses for decades. The blue boxes, which allow students to push a button and contact police, were once essential for keeping students safe while traveling through deserted campus areas. In lieu of these boxes, which are often out-of-date and not dependable, personal safety apps provide a fast and convenient way to contact someone in case of emergency.  They also offer more versatility and functionality, allowing the student to set a timer for their arrival and make sure friends are safe while en route.

At Kenyon College, a rural university in Gambier, Ohio, the Rave Guardian app helps students on and off campus stay safe. If students prefer, location services can be turned off and the app can be used as a simple, fast way to contact 911. “You can be out on the bike path or on the highway and use this app,” Ronald Griggs, Vice President for Library and Information Services at the university, said. “There are a lot of advantages to using it even off campus. Your car might break down on the side of the road. This app is important for an institution in a rural environment.”

In addition to keeping students safe while they are out for the evening of Halloween, an app like Rave Guardian can provide a fast way to contact help should a car-related emergency arise. The immediacy of a personal safety app is well-suited to the risks that a holiday like Halloween can pose for young people in a higher education setting.

Anonymous Tip-Texting

Crime on Halloween is often related to vandalism and theft. Students might feel hesitant to report any wrongdoing to the authorities, especially among peers. In general, younger people feel more comfortable texting than speaking on the phone. If campus police have an anonymous tip-texting line and students are able to submit information to campus authorities in an anonymous, direct way, crimes are less likely to go unreported. “If a student sees vandalism and doesn’t want to get involved, they can alert us and send a picture,” said Kenyon Director of Campus Safety, Robert Hooper.  “We’ll now have more eyes out there watching, and we can be anywhere on campus in under two minutes.”

Tip-texting functionality will not only help keep students safe and secure, it can also cut down on the response time to instances of vandalism, reducing the amount and cost of damage to school or student property.

Safety Profiles

If students fill out an emergency profile, campus police and other law enforcement personnel will be more prepared to respond to any situation that might arise on Hallow’s eve. It might make students feel more secure to let authorities have access to any prior health conditions, allergies, or pertinent information in the case of an emergency. The information provided can prove valuable in a crisis, but it may also provide a sense of security on an evening where students and staff might be feeling tense.

Emergency Notifications

Emergency notification systems can help campus officials keep students informed of key information during the Halloween season. While notifications are primarily used for more urgent messages such as severe weather events, they can also be used to issue any important notices in advance of October 31st. For example, many institutions banned clown costumes in 2016 following reports of violent crimes committed by individuals wearing clown attire. If certain costumes or costume accessories are prohibited on campus, it might be valuable to distribute this information to the student body before the holiday. If an emergency situation does arise during the holiday, notification technology can inform faculty, students, and staff can be informed quickly.

Campus safety on Halloween presents a variety of potential risks. It’s helpful to know that technology is available to manage these risks, and can be used to respond to any situation that might arise in a timely manner. With these tools in hand, everyone on campus can enjoy the true meaning of Halloween – candy, preferably in large quantities.

Calling 911 from a Cell Phone: The New Technology Making a Difference

calling 911 from a cell phone


How a New Technology Makes Calling 911 from a Cell Phone Safer

Written by Devan Weed, Rave Mobile Safety

Published on October 24, 2017


Pinpointing 911 Caller Location 

On October 11, 2017, an influential group of individuals from throughout the state of Louisiana gathered at the Tangipahoa Parish 911 Center for a demonstration of the latest upgrade to the Rave 911 Suite system, known for its popular feature Smart911, and how it is revolutionizing the outcome of calling 911 from a cell phone. A valuable partnership between the provider of the Rave 911 Suite and real-time data connection service, RapidSOS, is transforming the speed at which public safety officials can respond to emergency calls and conserve vital resources through enhanced location data and communication functionality.

Director Darouse described the latest 911 technology with advanced location information as “revolutionary to emergency response.” The new software enables 911 dispatchers to narrow down the location of an emergency caller from the standard range of around 400 – 500 feet to less than 10 – 15 feet. The accuracy of the location data vastly reduces the time it takes to reach a person in need of assistance, especially when the 911 call is dialed from a mobile device.

911 Caller Data and Communication 

In July of 2014, Tangipahoa Parish, LA adopted the Rave 911 Suite for its personal data registry known as Smart911. Smart911 is a free service to Tangipahoa residents that allows them to create a Safety Profile detailing information about themselves, their family members, their home, as well as any potential medical concerns that may be critical for first responders to have in the event of an emergency.

After three years of using the service, Tangipahoa 911 Director Dennis Darouse says the enhanced 911 system is more advanced than ever before. The Rave 911 Suite now allows emergency dispatchers to initiate a conversation with 9-1-1 callers via SMS text message. This functionality is critical in situations where verbal communication for the caller is either impossible or dangerous, and also when calling 911 from a cell phone in areas with a weak service connection.

“There have been several cases where the ability to text back and forth with a 9-1-1 caller has lead to saving that person or another individual’s life,” said Director Darouse.

One such example is a case on June 20, 2017 where a Tangipahoa woman dialed 9-1-1 and pleaded for help just before hanging up the phone out of fear of being discovered by her attacker. After losing contact with caller with little to no information about the incident or its location, 911 Call Taker Teresa McDonald initiated an SMS Chat session through the Rave 911 Suite system. Through text, McDonald was able to learn more about the incident at hand – the woman was unable to speak as she was hiding in a cabinet while threatening intruders searched for her in her home. McDonald was able to acquire the terrified woman’s address and continued to communicate with her until police arrived at the scene.

Click here for more information  about how the Rave 911 Suite is saving lives and improving the outcome of calling 911 from a cell phone.


Those that attended the demonstration of the latest advancements to the Rave 911 Suite system on October 11, 2017 included:

Department of Veteran’s Affairs

  • Alfred Leger, Deputy Assistant Secretary
  • Alex Juan, Communications Director
  • Michael Hyatt, VA Health Administrator

Department of Health, Office of Behavioral Health

  • Stephen Shaw, Crisis Counselor
  • Daniel Adams, Program Assistant, Crisis Response Division
  • Tom Jarlock, Program Manager

State Representatives & Staff (5)

  • Rep. Scott Simon, Chief of Staff
  • Sen. Erdey, Legislative Assistant, Legislative Aide

Parish Council & Administration (6)

  • Buddy Ridgel
  • James Bailey
  • Emile Mayeaux
  • David Vial
  • Joe Thomas, Chief Administrative Officer (1st under Parish President)
  • Dawson Primes, Director of Homeland Security

What Does a Crisis Management Plan Mean for Cities Like Miami?

crisis management plan

How Cities like Miami Are Building a Successful Crisis Management Plan Despite Their Many Challenges

A city crisis management plan must incorporate the risks in all facets of urban community living – for instance, unpredictable severe weather and an ever-increasing population are two challenges cities like Miami, FL are facing today.

Written by Andrea Lebron, Rave Mobile Safety
Published on October 20, 2017

Miami is a unique city, known for its tropical climate, arts and entertainment, and as a hub for the finance, healthcare, and biotech industries. Thousands of people move to the coastal metropolis every year to take advantage of its educational and cultural offerings. This rapid growth in population presents several challenges for city leaders and law enforcement professionals when it comes to creating a successful crisis management plan.

Managing Rising Population Density

The Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward metropolitan area has seen a substantial population increase of 9.76% over the past seven years. Residents flock to this area of Florida in pursuit of college degrees, new condominium developments, and the promise of a vibrant city life. In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the Miami Metro area hit nearly 6 million people for the first time, making it the 8th most populous urban area in the United States. Many cities like Miami are also anticipating an influx of Puerto Rican residents as the island continues to rebuild from the Hurricane Maria devastation. The state of Florida is predicted to overtake New York in terms of population density by the 2020 Census. Such a forecast for high population growth will influence how city leaders continue to develop Miami’s crisis management plan.

Picture of the Rave 911 Suite feature designed for enhanced facility data and responder awareness known as “Rave Facility”

Adapting Emergency Response to the High-Rise Boom

The growing trend for those seeking Miami residency is also giving way to construction of several new buildings in the city. Miami has the third-tallest skyline in the United States with over 300 high-rises. While Hurricane Irma, which hit the area in September, caused safety concerns around high-rise construction zones and cranes, an ongoing issue is managing fire emergencies and evacuations for these multi-storied buildings. Miami has dedicated several resources to fire emergency response and is considered to have the 10th largest fire department in the United States. Although the Miami Fire Department has access to building plans for these high rises that were submitted before construction, the building plans generally don’t include updates to the design such as extra floors added. Understanding a high-rise building’s facility design and surrounding area, as well as evacuation and relocations plans is extremely important for public safety.

Preparing for More Severe Weather Events

As a coastal city with an increasingly dense population, severe weather and other disasters pose high risks for Miami. This was made clear after Hurricane Irma struck the region. Miami’s emergency management teams and legislative bodies were proactive in preparing for Irma, beginning planning efforts five days before the hurricane landed. While Irma didn’t devastate the region as much as Hurricanes Harvey and Maria did to other locations, it did reveal discrepancies in Miami’s emergency planning for severe weather events. For example, despite Irma being reduced to a tropical storm, its impact on the region’s power grid proved to be much worse and took much longer to repair than expected. Another noted issue was the communications around mandatory evacuations for certain areas. Many residents evacuated at the same time and with the lack of fuel supply, ended up stuck on the highway, rather than within the safety of a shelter. The key for Miami public safety officials will be to implement changes to emergency response now while it’s top of mind for many residents.

Caring for Vulnerable Populations

Vulnerable populations such as the homeless or those suffering with a mental illness present another set of challenges for emergency managers who need to communicate and protect them. According to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, as of January 2018, approximately 982 people are unsheltered and living on the street. During an event such as Hurricane Irma, it takes a lot of resources to ensure the safety of this group. For example, the Miami Police Department and other volunteers scoured the city by foot to get many homeless people who were unaware of the severity of the storm into shelters.

Another more serious issue is distinguishing someone suffering from the symptom of a mental illness over someone with dangerous intentions. Nearly 2 million people per year are sent to jail because of misunderstood behavior associated with a mental illness rather than sent to a proper treatment facility. The reality of mental health emergency response in the United States is that law enforcement is often the only available resource for those experiencing a mental health emergency, putting an extreme burden on public safety resources. Knowing this information ahead of time before responding to an emergency would save Miami first responders a lot of time and energy.

Picture of the Rave 911 Suite feature that delivers additional citizen data and communication channels during a 911 call, known as “Smart911”

Embracing New Technology

Miami is working towards becoming a smart city through the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and CIVIQ Smartscapes programs. According to the Miami Herald, Miami will use the power of the Internet of Things or IoT to: “…create an integrated plan identifying the IoT technologies, data processes and high-impact solutions that will most benefit the region.” The CIVIQ Smartscapes smart city ecosystem will make free Wi-Fi access and USB charging ports available to all residents.

These technological initiatives will make it easier for residents to seek out updates and engage with emergency management teams via social media and other mobile platforms from anywhere in the city. While the state of Florida already has a state-wide emergency notification system similar to Rave Alert, using tools that provide access to key information about a citizen in distress, such as important medical concerns or disabilities, pets, or any other information might be valuable for first responders in efficiently handling the emergency.

What can other cities learn from Miami’s crisis management plan?            

Cities similar to Miami should also stress the importance of prioritizing emergency planning, enhancing community readiness, and leveraging technology for safety purposes. Whether dealing with a growing population or increased weather events, emergency managers can continue to adapt their plans by leveraging new and existing tools and data.