Security Communications: Connecting Schools & Communities with Interoperability

With the start of a new academic calendar just on the horizon, all kinds of preparations are underway. Classrooms are being tidied and prepped for students, bus routes are being scheduled, and superintendents are working tirelessly in collaboration with their communities to plan for the upcoming year.

In the midst of a daunting to-do list, evaluating communication technology can fall to the wayside. Functioning two-way radios simply don’t cut it anymore—in the wake of frequent security and safety threats to American schools and universities, modernized solutions are becoming bare necessities for campuses nationwide.

One trailblazing difference between the radios of yesterday and the technology of today is the potential for interoperability. When emergencies arise, the ability to reach and connect beyond the confines of a school campus significantly saves time, energy, and lives.

What Is Interoperability?

At its core, interoperability is the ability of two systems to exchange or make use of information. This definition applies to communication systems in the same way: An interoperable communication system is one that can connect and exchange data with another, regardless of its type.

What makes this capability so valuable to the education industry is its contribution to emergency communication and crisis management. When a time-sensitive, life-threatening event unfolds on a school campus, first responders must be able to communicate with other agencies and prioritized points of contact to understand the entire situation.

On an internal scale, interoperability can revolutionize the functionality of a school’s existing set of communication tools. Connecting these technologies through a cloud-based service can ensure the functionality and compatibility of all systems, including radios, smartphones, cameras, and more.

Interoperable Communication Systems


Interoperability aims to reduce emergency response times significantly. Mere seconds can make the difference between safely diffusing a situation and endangering the lives of students and staff. Coordination is the key to protecting your campus.

MutualLink utilizes interoperability to connect superintendents with first responder agencies across diverse device or network types. Encrypted radio, video, text messaging, and file sharing provide situational awareness to all involved contacts on their preferred communication devices.

One of the unique functions of MutualLink is its panic button feature, which can simultaneously call 9-1-1, initiate a MutualLink collaboration session between the school and first responders, and notify on-site personnel—all at the push of a button. Additionally, the incorporation of an IP-based solution allows radio, voice, and video communication to connect seamlessly across a wide number of locations and with affiliated partner agencies.


In the event of an active threat, superintendents and supervisors need access to a direct line of communication with emergency responders. Unfortunately, when an emergency affects the entire community, it becomes nearly impossible to contact police officers, firefighters, and medics. Common channels become congested with traffic as panicked citizens and victims attempt to contact emergency services; as a result, vital messages can get lost in the mess.

A dedicated public safety broadband network can bypass any congestion and transmit messages from the school to public safety officials in real-time. This is the essence of FirstNet: A nationwide broadband network that gives first responders a direct line of communication with school superintendents and representatives.

The advanced communication and collaboration technologies of FirstNet benefit first responders as much as the communities they serve; the system allows for people in emergency situations to relay uninterrupted, real-time updates and data. In turn, responses are more efficient, safer, and less prone to the panic that uncoordinated communication can cause.

Developing an Interoperability Plan

The most effective communication methods in times of emergency require interoperability. If you’re looking to introduce interoperable systems to your current communication setup, you’ll want to develop and execute a well-thought-out plan. Ensuring the connectivity and cooperation of your preferred first responders requires a shared, practiced plan.

Planning begins with identifying your primary points of emergency contact, including police, fire, EMS, and other first responders. While the team may include front-line personnel, members should have the authority and skill set to appropriately represent their respective departments.

Once the team is identified, you can begin to assess interoperability requirements. Who must communicate? How and when? Under what situations will agencies need to work together? Additionally, you should conduct an assessment of your communication resources to identify current configurations and any gaps.

The implementation of your solution might require purchasing or upgrading existing equipment to achieve universal compatibility. Once your plan is ready to be set in motion, practice it. This step is critical: Everything must be tested ahead of time to verify both technological compatibility and the mutual understanding of all members involved.

The completion of this plan signals the dawning of a new one: a maintenance plan. This is meant to confirm the functionality of both primary and back-up technologies and devices. Consistent check-ups will ensure that your infrastructure is ready for action at a moment’s notice.

Interoperability at YOUR School: Start Now

Are you ready to experience the benefits of interoperable communication systems for yourself? Whether you’re wondering if this upgrade is right for you or concerned about budgetary restrictions, ESS is happy to help. Contact us today to get started.

Motorola Unified Team Communications

Powerful Alone. Game Changing Together.

Whether you work in hospitality, manufacturing, transportation, or any other industrial workplace, your business relies on many disparate systems and technologies to get the job done – each with a unique role to play in the safety, productivity, and efficiency of your operations. Yet different devices, networks, and technology systems can keep business-critical information in silos. The result is limited communication and collaboration, delayed responses to issues, a heavier burden on your IT department, and a different vendor to manage for each solution.

End-To-End Industrial Communications Suite

Motorola Solutions has created an end-to-end industrial communications suite to break down the walls between your disparate technologies and systems. Instant and reliable two-way radios unified with broadband communications. Robust video security and analytics. Dynamic incident management and dispatch software. Private LTE to off-load your network data burden. And services to manage it all for you. All of these solutions are powerful alone, but when integrated together, they are game-changing for your business.


COVID-19 Update & Our Commitment to You

To Our ESS Team, Customers, and Suppliers:

With the growing concern surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to take a few minutes to assure you that ESS is taking the necessary precautions to, first and foremost, protect the health of our employees and visitors, as well as best support our clients to minimize any business disruption.

We also ask that our employees, customers and supplier network monitor the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and follow the updates and recommendations around this highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the COVID-19 virus.

ESS is ensuring our teams adhere to our customers’ on-site requirements. We also want to ensure that, as an organization, you are also monitoring and adhering to the CDC advisories and recommendations so that we may continue to keep all of our teams safe during this outbreak.

As service providers we can do our best to ensure that we are performing due diligence to mitigate the spread of this virus.

There are areas to monitor during this time:

Recognizing Symptoms:

  • Coughing, sneezing
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing

Protecting Yourself and others:

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene:

  • Frequently clean hands by using soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with fever and cough
  • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your healthcare provider

Travel Advisories from CDC:  

Warning Level 3 for Italy, South Korea, Iran, and China (not including Hong Kong) and a Warning Level 2 Travel Advisory for Japan.

Qualify that no one who has returned from a Warning Level 2 or 3 location or who has had close contact with anyone potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus is being dispatched.

NOTE: If anyone is exhibiting any symptoms, they should stay home until they have recovered. This is a protection for our clients and our co-workers.

For additional information related to this outbreak, please visit the CDC Website and/or the  WHO Website

Thanks to everyone for working together to get through this.