HOUSTON - A new software technology called ALERT connects schools to law enforcement and could be a game-changer in how police respond to an active shooter situation.
After his daughter was one of 17 people killed at Parkland High School, Andrew Pollack partnered with software developers and created a $20-million program, called the School Safety Grant. The program would distribute a technology called ALERT, which stands for 'Active Law Enforcement Response Technology' to schools and police nationwide—for free.
On the committee reviewing grant applications sits two familiar faces from Santa Fe High School, who share the same passion of making schools safer.
ALERT is a new, encrypted technology that gives officers responding to an active shooter situation, a bird’s eye view by providing dispatchers access to surveillance and security systems inside the building, and guiding officers accordingly.
"No matter what system they're using, they can bring in the technology in real-time and be able to control cameras, see floor plans, release doors and even speak over the public address system in real-time," said Lee Mandel, the CEO of IntraLogic Solutions.
Mandel began developing the software in 2012 after the massacre at Sandy Hook in Connecticut, where 20 elementary-aged kids and six adults were killed.
Mandel said in simulation drills, response times were reduced to a fraction of the time. In an emergency situation where seconds matter, this could mean the difference between life and death.
"We've done drills and we've seen the process take from one minute, up to three or four minutes. Compare that to a manual process finding a shooter in 100 to 200,000 square-foot facility based off echoing gunshots could take 30 minutes and in Andy's case, Meadow was not found past 40 minutes," Mandel said.
"My daughter would be alive today if this was in play in 2018," said Andrew Pollack.
Pollack's daughter was one of 17 people killed at Parkland High School.
"My daughter was put out on the third floor. The fire alarm started going off because of 90 rounds went off in the building. My daughter's teacher thought that it would be a good idea to put her into the hallway and that's where she was shot nine times instead," Pollack said.
Roughly three months after the massacre at Parkland, came the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School where 23 people were shot including Flo Rice.
FOR THE LATEST NEWS & WEATHER UPDATES DOWNLOAD THE FOX 26 APPS
Flo and her husband Scot now serve on the School Safety Grant committee reviewing applications to help distribute this platform nationwide.
"It would be a Godsend. Every school that we can get this implemented, it's one less worry for a parent that their child is going to come home safe because every child deserves to come home safe from school," said Flo.
"People can't let their guard down and parents need to think about what am I sending my kid back to. Yeah, I'm worried about them getting sick from a pandemic or COVID might be there, but there might be an active shooter too," Scot said.
In addition to schools and law enforcement, Pollack says ALERT could also be applied to businesses and places of worship.
The police in Coral Springs, Florida where Andrew Pollack is from, has now become the first department in the nation to adopt the ALERT technology.
SchoolSafetyGrant.Org began accepting grant applications right before the pandemic in March. So far, they've received more than 200 applications. To apply, click here.