Most Apps Don’t Do Much
We hate to point it out, but we know it's true; apps for school safety just don't cut it. There are many school safety apps that don’t present worthwhile solutions to the safety problem and are simply a waste of time, money, and energy. A lot of these apps are just native-like apps with some pretty ribbon on top. These apps simply mirror the functions you can already find on your cell phone, and don't justify the immense cost of employing them at your school.
For example, some apps only speed dial 911, which is an inherent function of almost every modern cell phone. Some apps make their money by allowing you to store emergency contact info for quick access. Doesn’t your contact list do this already? We're sorry to say that plenty of apps make money this way, and can be a quick buck from schools looking for affordable safety methods for their students.
The increase in school security measures has made a 2.7 billion dollar industry. With all the movement in the marketplace, you need to be sure that your safety measures are well researched rather than a quick cash grab. The reality is that sometimes, though safety apps present themselves as an easy, one-size-fits-all solution, they can be a money pit for struggling schools.
People Don’t Want the Apps
Teachers already have 60-90 apps on their phone. Research says they aren’t interested in downloading safety apps they won’t use regularly. Our phones, including the phones of our teachers, are packed full of apps. Making another app is ineffective. A phone is a phone and, while some may think that your phone is a great way to promote safety, using a dedicated school safety mechanism ensures that distractions and disinterest don't play a role in safety.
The emphasis on cellphones can make for big distractions in the classroom. Instead, you should be able to rely on a system that can be utilized without a cellphone ringing and derailing your entire class. That's why we developed our system to combat the inadequacies of safety apps.
Emergency alert apps are thrown out by teachers. People often don't download apps they don't want on their phones. If they do download the safety app. There's a high possibility that, even if teachers download them for a short time, they'll end up deleting them after a few weeks of no emergency alerts being issued.
Relying on the Wrong Tech
There are numerous problems with relying on school safety apps to stay safe. Some involve the limitations of technology in general and some involve the way humans behave psychologically. You can expect these problems to persist no matter which app you choose, and you'd be much better off solving these problems by switching to a dedicated communication system that doesn't rely on an app.
A safety app has to be compatible with all phones, then it has to receive regular updates, and it has to be easy to learn for teachers. You’ll also have to devote time and energy to teaching people about new features, updates, and differences in the app between operating systems.
For safety app startups, this is incredibly difficult. Ensuring that an app works across multiple platforms and on multiple devices takes hours of coding and design. Don't be surprised if the safety app you are considering isn't covered on Android. The team behind it may not have the time to code it.
You'll have to ask yourself if you can afford this lack of coverage if a safety app is your avenue of choice. We believe there are better solutions, but sometimes a school safety app may be your only choice. Make sure to vet the company though. Ask for a trial run, and pay attention to how the app handles multiple pieces of technology and observe if it's being updated consistently.
One of the best parts about Badge is that it's compatible with a piece of equipment that teachers use every day: an ID badge. If your school's policy requires staff to wear an identification badge, you can use Badge Messenger® to add even more function to that ID holder. Your run-of-the-mill ID holder can be replaced with Badge Messenger to make a seemingly-unimportant piece of equipment one of the most important pieces of school security.
Parkland led to over 100 lawsuits. Investing in better communications could have saved the school some liability. School safety isn't all about money, but school administrators know all too well that reducing liability and risk is a small priority. Decreasing these problems with apps decreases your school’s liability.
School safety apps are sometimes hard to use or have a lot of navigating in order to use them. Think about this quick scenario. You are a teacher and you have a safety problem in your classroom. What steps must you take in order to alert the school and receive help in a timely manner?
First, you'll need your phone which could be locked away in your desk or at home because you don't want it to distract you. If you do have your phone close by, then you'll have to unlock it, find the app, open the app, navigate the app to make an alert, and then send said alert. It may not sound like a lot, but doing these steps while managing the panic in your classroom can be difficult. It's a lot of steps, especially when you consider that our solution relies on a singular button press.
WiFi and Cellular Dead Zones
Everybody loves being connected. But, if we’re being honest, we all know that the cellular coverage can be sparse in areas. This is especially true of rural areas. Worse, even if you teach in the most technologically-advanced city in your state, WiFi and cellular networks get congested with heavy traffic. As more and more devices reside in the same network, the more likely a congestion problem will occur during an emergency.
Even though we’ve been sold on flawless connectivity, we all know it’s a bit of a fib. If your system relies on either of these things to call for help, then you could be in big trouble. The problem is that apps rely on both.
Speaking of cellular networks, how often do you get a message on your phone that's not school-related? Faculty members get messages all the time. Whether it's from home, friends, or the dreaded telemarketer, teachers will be having a gamut of alerts and notifications pop up throughout the school day. You can be assured that when you receive a Badge Messenger alert, it is 100% school related.
If you want something you can rely on without cell service or WiFi then there aren't any apps we know of that fit the bill. We haven't seen a single one, which is why we designed a system that doesn't need either to function. WiFi and cell service will be the least of your worries with Badge Messenger.
Learn about the other benefits of Badge Messenger in this video:
We don't think apps are all bad, but we think that they have some limitations that you should consider before paying the money for them. Our organization is striving to make schools across the nation safer places, but we're skeptical that apps are the best method for doing so. If we can encourage consumers to push for better products with more fail safes, then we can make students even safer than they are now. If you're currently considering a school safety app for your campus, make sure to ask questions and get the best solution for your needs.