Plans are underway to upgrade security in Finnish schools with the use of an emergency SMS system which would be employed in cases such as the shootings that took place last year in Kauhajoki and in 2007 at Jokela.
YLE reports that the Finnish education authorities have commissioned a working group to undertake a risk analysis of schools as a basis for improved security and safety measures. In addition, the group will also investigate the construction of ground floor windows that can be utilised as escape routes and increased emergency exits. Each school will have its own risk analysis in the future which will be used to create a staff-operated security portfolio. These portfolios will also include police advice for handling emergency situations.
A further proposal would see every school fitted with a ‘black box’ near the entrance which would contain floor plans and photographs of the buildings. In the event of an emergency, this could be utilised to provide rescue workers and police with immediate information concerning the facility.
The SMS alarm system is already being trialled at Helsinki’s Laurea University of Applied Sciences. “In the case of an emergency, such as a fire or the threat of a violent incident, the system accesses student contact information from the school’s database. It is then able to send 600 SMS messages per minute to both students and staff. These could, for example, be orders not to enter the building or to leave it,” explains Paivi Korhonenen, Laurea’s Communications Director. Plans to introduce the SMS system would see it brought into use over the next year after testing is complete.