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Design for Safety Using UI/UX - School Security Ecosystem in Response to the Santa Fe H.S. Experience


In response to the Santa Fe HS school shooting in Houston, TX we developed a multi-component school security ecosystem that works in conjunction with a tiered mobile application. The system includes a wall-mounted classroom unit, a portable trigger, and a black box server that acts as the primary hub for the wireless mesh network. The classroom unit can be tied to door locks to automatically secure classrooms, and includes a strobe-based deterrent to impair the vision of an assailant as they attempt to navigate the hallways and public spaces of school grounds. The application provides support for administrators, staff, students, parents, and emergency responders in the event of a crisis. While this system was designed to address school shootings incidents specifically, the concept was expanded to include other school crises, such as weather events, medical emergencies, and infrastructure-related evacuations.

The app, called Scout, has customizable levels of functionality controlled by an administrator. Features include an incident-specific alarm-trigger, archive of crisis-specific protocol, reporting system for safety checks at the user level, customizable map to show safe zones, threat locations, and evacuation routes, and a real-time incident timeline that can be updated by administrators or emergency responders.

After conducting interviews with survivors of the Santa Fe shooting, our research revealed that communication between emergency responders, staff, students, and parents is one of the biggest problems with incident management efforts, both during and after the crisis. Our application connects these parties and bridges the communication gap, which lessens the duration of each incident and allows recovery efforts to begin sooner.

Scout, however, is not just a tool for crisis management. When combined with the other physical elements of the security system, especially the classroom unit, Scout brings safety to the forefront of each classroom by gamifying basic security measures. The greatest threat to students in the event of a school shooting is an unlocked door. Through a positive feedback loop and positive reinforcement created by the security system, locking doors is incentivized. Faster and more frequent Lock Confirmations enable classrooms to compete against one another, with the ultimate goal of increasing their safety. Incorporating a countdown timer during class periods and passing periods motivates students to switch classrooms faster, and better prepare to intentionally move about the building.

Leo Chen

Shifter Design is an industrial design and user experience consultancy. Over its 15 year as a company, we have deliver the top quality products and experience for our clients including Dell, Motorola, Kodak.

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