School Safety Bill Envisions Interoperable Communications in Schools
Colorado state senator Steve King filed on Friday the first school safety bill in the nation to envision statewide communications interoperability that includes all schools.
King said the bill will be introduced early this week and assigned a bill number. Meanwhile, the bill, as filed, can be downloaded from SchoolSafetySummit.org, a web site for stakeholders.
The bill draws on resources offered by the Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Division of Fire Safety within the Colorado Department of Public Safety, and the Colorado School Safety Resource Center to help schools include interoperable communications in their school safety, readiness, and incident management plans.
Under the bill, the School Safety Resource Center would incorporate interoperable communications into its broad array of outreach programs to schools across Colorado.
The Division of Fire Safety, as part of its regular school fire safety inspections, would review all-hazard drills conducted by a school, the school's ability to communicate directly with state and local first responders during an emergency, and the school's implementation of the National Incident Management System.
OIT would provide expertise, online training, train-the-trainer materials, and other tools to promote interoperable communications in schools.
At a recent School Safety Summit led by King at the Colorado State Capitol, OIT explained that the Colorado Statewide Digital Trunked Radio System (DTRS) was available to schools. DTRS provides a near seamless statewide wireless system that enables direct communications between agencies that absolutely must communicate during times of emergency. OIT reported that 36 of Colorado's 178 school districts are currently on the system.
In addition, a growing number of both urban and rural school districts including Platte Canyon, Pueblo County D70, Douglas County, Boulder Valley, Prowers County, Montezuma-Cortez RE-1, and Clear Creek have developed and deployed their own interoperable communications systems that link their schools, district offices, buses, and community response agencies.
According to the bill, schools would benefit from coordinated multi-stakeholder efforts to share best practices in emergency communications, identify the emergency communications needs at the school level, help target technical assistance and grant opportunities, and prepare schools and the public safety community for next-generation communications technologies.