Former Teacher Creates App Aimed to Assist Schools In Emergencies

Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-20 22:53:31-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Feb. 20, 2014) — A former West Michigan educator has taken time off from teaching to develop a smart phone app aimed at helping schools communicate with law enforcement during an active lockdown.

The software is called Active Shelter, and it is pretty simple to use. The program allows for law enforcement and school officials to instantly send emergency information as a push alert to smart phones.

After receiving the alert, a teacher is prompted to respond by replying if they are “secure” or “unsecure”. The app has a default location for each teacher on their profile. This would then allow law enforcement to map out where the active situation is. By not responding to the prompt, emergency crews would be alerted to where a teacher might be in trouble.

The app also allows for teachers to send detailed messages to both dispatchers and school officials about what they are seeing.

“An individual user could say something like I’m okay but I hear screams in the hallway, or we are secure, but I have two kids that need medical help,” said creator Mark McDonald.

McDonald said that his inspiration is his three sons, and protecting other people’s children after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The software has already been presented to government agencies and school officials across the country.

“For one I’m a father, and my kids are in school and I want my kid’s teachers to have tools to protect my children,” said McDonald.

After teaching for 12 years, McDonald said that during active shooter drills, there isn’t much communication between teachers with students in their classroom and law enforcement. He hopes Active Shelter changes that.

“Teachers that are there with the kids, law enforcement that are coming to help, and if I can besiege that gap, I’m a happy guy,” said McDonald.

McDonald hopes to have Active Shelter available on the app store within the next few weeks. It will be free to download, and schools will be charged based on how many students it has.