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New Mapping Technology Could Make WI Schools Safer

More than textbooks and apples come to mind as the Wisconsin school year begins. Local law enforcement is researching ways to beef up school security. (Pixabay)
More than textbooks and apples come to mind as the Wisconsin school year begins. Local law enforcement is researching ways to beef up school security. (Pixabay)
August 10, 2018

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Emergency-response timing is key in 'active shooter' situations, and Wisconsin is examining new technology to get emergency personnel to the scene more quickly.

Mapping technology used by military special operations is now seen as a tool for emergency responders to get a detailed map of a building – rooms, hallways, entrances and exits – for an expedited assessment of any location.

City of Menasha Police Chief Tim Styka says the technology, presented at the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association summer conference, is part of the effort to gather and review tactics to keep schools safe, including from the possibility of a gunman on campus.

"God forbid something like this happen in the state of Wisconsin,” says Styka. “We will be having resources coming in from all over the place. As a result many officers certainly don't know where the library is in an adjacent jurisdiction's high school."

Styka says the technology, created by BAE Systems, shows promise because it brings some of the most important information to an emergency responder's fingertips – accessible on their phones or squad-car computers.

Styka says a couple of the counties in western Wisconsin are moving quickly to implement the technology and will pool resources to pay for it. He thinks it could also play a much bigger role outside of school facilities.

"The area that's doing it also encompasses Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton,” says Styka. “Obviously, there's a lot of conference centers and water parks, and places where you tend to have a fair amount of gathering of people."

Last month, Attorney General Brad Schimel announced there are still $45 million of school-safety and mental-health grants that could go toward training staff, upgrading buildings and taking other steps to improve school safety.

Styka says those efforts, combined with law enforcement's, mean safety is a big priority going into the new school year.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - WI