Illinois School District Improves Situational Awareness and Shortens Response Time
Located in Mundelein, Illinois, in the northwestern suburb outside Chicago, Fremont School District 79 (SD 79) is composed of three schools: elementary, intermediate and middle. The district enrolls over 2,200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, covers a 36-square mile area, and draws from seven neighboring communities. In the aftermath of an alarming number of incidents of school violence around the nation, their district placed even greater emphasis on tightening campus security and creating a culture of increased safety for students and school personnel.
The challenges & objectives?
- Replace push-to-talk cellular with reliable real-time communications. The lack of coverage in certain areas of the schools, spotty cell reception, the decommissioning of the Nextel cellular service along with an upcoming renewal cycle with the carrier were the catalysts for the district’s search for a robust communication solution.
Our cell signal was weak. It didn’t reach into the lower levels of our schools where we really needed it, such as the cafeteria, storage and mechanical rooms. Our cell coverage was not only unreliable, but Nextel stopped supporting the push-to-talk network which eliminated the redundancy we wanted to have in a communication system. – Mike Tanner, Director of Business Services
- Connect radios directly to 9-1-1 call centers. Fremont SD 79 wanted to maintain a direct line of communication with the 9-1-1 call center in Lake County. One of the challenges from an EMS and law enforcement standpoint was the school’s isolated location. It could take 10 minutes for a deputy sheriff or 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, hence they wanted to shorten that response time by enabling staff to talk directly to a dispatcher in an emergency instead of being relayed through an office.
How were the objectives achieved?
- Nextel push-to-talk cell phones were switched to MOTOTRBO SL 7550 portable radios. Forty portable radios were distributed to front line administrators, the business office, transportation director, custodians, technology staff, playground aides and PE instructors who often teach students off campus.
- Teldio’s advanced telephone interconnect, Radio Branch Exchange (RBX) was added to the radio network to allow radio users to make and receive phone calls directly on their MOTOTRBO digital radios. Integrating into the district’s PBX phone system, employees can make a call from a MOTOTRBO radio directly to 9-1-1 dispatchers.
This capability is important for all our personnel, but particularly for those who are outside monitoring playgrounds and sports activities and don’t have access to a landline in an emergency. – Mike Tanner
- Faster collaboration and better situational awareness. The ability to streamline communications with MOTOTRBO group calling creates greater safety and efficiency.
- The installation of the MOTOTRBO repeater eliminated the coverage problems and extended the range of communications. MOTOTRBO radios connect the entire district, so if there is a bus accident or a need to move a school to an alternate location, the radios perform clearly and reliably. In addition, the school has been able to turn lower-level space into multiple classrooms that are reachable by radio – an unexpected benefit.
- 20 percent Return on Investment: Fremont SD 79 realized the cost-saving benefits of MOTOTRBO radio from the start.
- MOTOTRBO radios are a key component of the district’s integrated security plan. By being able to talk directly with 9-1-1 dispatchers, it enables them to shorten response time with first responders, increasing safety.
We were spending thousands of dollars a year to have a Nextel solution that was not working for us. Not only did we eliminate cell phones, but our personnel are very satisfied with MOTOTRBO radios as the best tool for managing work around campus. – Mike Tanner