NEW HAVEN, CT (WAFB) - Four Yale undergraduates have developed a new startup app to protect students and faculty members during violent gun situations in schools.
Daniel James, a graduate of McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, founded the app along with Michael Chime, Neal Soni, and Dylan Gleicher.
“During the Parkland school shooting, it took them about 3 minutes and 30 seconds to initiate a lockdown,” said James. “Meanwhile, the shooting was a little over five minutes. That means for the majority of the time, they were trying to initiate a lockdown.”
The app, called PREPARED, was awarded a $25,000 Miller Prize, which goes to the best student-led venture with a tech service at the Yale Startup competition.
“We started the app because all of us founders have connections to or have witnessed extreme events in schools and because school shootings are really an epidemic in our country,” James told the Yale Daily News.
Chime says he first came up with the idea in the summer of 2018, concerned about his two brothers' safety in school. James, Gleicher and Soni also experienced gun violence or threats of gun violence while they were in school and shared Chime’s passion for the cause.
The app is available in three different user forms: one for administrators, teachers, and students.
Teachers are able to sent an alert that there is a shooter on campus, and there are steps to prevent accidental clicks and confirmation screens. Their location is then sent to school administrators and law enforcement.
Administrators have the ability to send an Amber Alert-style message and to place the school under lock down.
The superintendent of the Sandy Hook school district says the app should be “in every school in the country.”
The team studied the case of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in order to identify the functions their app needed to have. According to Chime, during the Parkland shooting, the school used their PA, or public address, system to alert students to the threat, which took three minutes and 30 seconds.
Chime noted, however, that the entirety of the shooting took five minutes. He explained that the shooter took advantage of the time in which students, teachers and administrators were trying to flee to kill as many individuals as possible. The PREPARED team’s app, on the other hand, takes as little as 15 seconds to disseminate an alert to teachers, administrators and 911.
The app is in the process of being implemented in 22 schools, including 18 in Louisiana. One of those schools is James’ alma mater, McKinley High.
"Safety is very important and in today’s world, you just want to make sure your kids are safe at all times and this is just one step, one precaution we’re talking to really be able to communicate with our teachers, our law enforcement, making sure we’re able to ensure we’re able to have a safe space for our students to attend,” said Esrom Pitre, the principal of McKinley.
In 2018, there were 94 school gun violence incidents — the highest recorded annual number in the U.S. — according to data from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
Click here for more details about the app.