Why School Lockdowns Are Not “One Size Fits All”


When most people think of a school lockdown, they think of a worst-case, active shooter scenario. Of course this makes sense because those are the terrible and truly heartbreaking stories we see on the news far too often. However, it’s important to remember that not all of these situations are active shooters. While it’s critical to be prepared for the worst, it’s also important to plan for other situations in which a lockdown may occur, and to understand the differences therein. We’ve laid out a few scenarios in this article, and explained how our SmartBoot System in particular, manages these scenarios. We know other systems may help school staff, students, and administrators in different ways, but for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on how we handle it. We hope our readers will gain some insight into the differences between types of lockdowns and how your school safety system can aid you in working through each.

Lockdown Type: Extremely Disruptive Student

Lockdown Level: Low
Lockdown Triggered By: Attending teacher or staff via mobile application

If a student is out of control in a classroom and could be a danger to themselves or others, it may be time to use your dedicated application to trigger a low level lockdown so other teachers and key staff can quickly understand what’s happening and be prepared if the situation escalates. By triggering a low-level lockdown, you instantly give important information to key personnel and, without an announcement that could potentially aggravate the student, give important information to everyone with the application through push notifications. If necessary, security personnel are now en route to help, and administration has a record of the incident and can increase the lockdown level if necessary.

Lockdown Type: Nearby Violent Crime

Lockdown Level: Medium
Lockdown Triggered By: Police Through Mobile Application

If a violent event such as a robbery or shooting occurs near your school and the suspects may be at large, receiving that information and acting upon it quickly is the best idea. Situations like this are why effective communication with local authorities is so important. It may be recess, lunch, or the beginning or end of the school day and children may be outside and exposed to potential threats. After police have determined that there may be a threat, they can communicate directly with all key staff members on their mobile devices through the dispatch application, triggering a medium-risk school lockdown in which all students are quickly brought inside and all exterior doors are locked down. Once the all clear is given by police through the same application, everyone can go back to business as usual. Dependent on procedure, students and parents may have access to the application as well so that a full chain of communication helps to create aware, empowered individuals.

Lockdown Type: Threat Against School

Lockdown Level: Medium
Lockdown Triggered By: Police or School Administration Through Mobile Application

More and more we see students or other individuals making threats against schools. As unfortunate as this trend is, we need to be prepared for it, and take all threats seriously, whether there is an attempt to carry them out or not. When a threat is made on social media, through a person, via phone, or through any other means, a medium-risk lockdown of the school can be triggered through your mobile application as soon as potential danger is recognized. This way, all students, staff, administration, and parents have an instant understanding of the situation at the school, and can respond accordingly. Also, through the two-way communication with police through their desktop application, dispatch is automatically made aware of the threat and can also respond accordingly.

Lockdown Type: Non-Gun Weapon on Campus

Lockdown Level: High
Lockdown Triggered By: Boot™ Removal or Mobile Application

Even if it’s not a gun, any weapon (besides an explosive device which may trigger an evacuation) must be treated as life threatening, and trigger a high-risk lockdown. If a student or staff member sees the weapon and is able to remove their Boot™ from the SmartBox, an automatic lockdown will be triggered and a full system alert will occur. This includes an audio warning of “lockdown” from each SmartBox, and a visual warning of red blinking lights from the SmartLights installed throughout the school. Police will also be immediately informed through their dispatch application and can proceed to the school with an understanding of the location at which the lockdown first occurred via Bluetooth triangulation from the location of the first Boot™ removal. During this time, authorities can communicate with students and staff through their mobile application, providing them vital information or giving them directions. When the threat is disabled, an all-clear signal is given both verbally though the SmartBox, and visually through the SmartLights blinking green. Should the lockdown be initiated via the mobile application, the same processes will occur automatically.

Lockdown Type: Active Shooter

Lockdown Level: High
Lockdown Triggered By: Gunfire, Boot™ Removal, or Mobile Application

In an active shooter scenario, seconds become crucial, so instant communication and action are critical. People often freeze in these situations, cutting into their action time, and giving an advantage to the shooter. If a shot does ring out, the SmartSystem immediately triggers a lockdown, giving everyone within the building a clear indication of the process they must now follow. With training, rather than remaining in a state of confused shock, the movements required should be second-nature, and it’s this practice that allows potential targets to act and give themselves a higher chance of remaining safe. The system also alerts police that a lockdown has occurred, and triangulates the position of the shot through the Bluetooth system. This way, occupants can lockdown their rooms, get to a safe location, and take action as necessary. As police arrive on-scene, they are continuously updated on any new location of shots fired, and can determine the quickest and best path to the threat. If the Boot™ is pulled, full system activation also occurs, and police arriving first on-scene can determine initial location of the shooter, and can further determine their movements via shot detection. An active shooter scenario and high-level school lockdown are unthinkable events, but we must be as prepared as possible so that we can save lives if one does occur.

Be Prepared, Stay Safe

These were just a few examples of when a lockdown may occur. We work daily with authorities to continuously improve our processes and the processes of our customers when dealing with potentially dangerous situations. We’re sure each company that works to create and maintain safety in a school lockdown scenario has opinions on how to manage each lockdown level, and we encourage you to learn as much as you can through your own research.

Scroll to Top