New technology promises to make Wake County schools safer by efficiently tracking school guests

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Monday, May 15, 2023
New technology helping keep schools safer than ever before
A new visitor management system is helping schools track visitors that come and go throughout the day.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new piece of technology is being tested as a way to keep Wake County schools as safe as possible.

At the end of the Wake County Public School System Board of Education meeting on April 11, school board members unanimously approved the use of Verkada. The visitor management software will sunset the number of various software programs that exist across county schools.

Verkada will be one system that is used at every school and the district's Cary campus.

"We'll see how it works," said WCPSS senior director of security Russ Smith. "Verkada meets a lot, all of the things that we're looking for as far as the Sex Offender Registry, doing hall passes, and being able to network and input so this would be all together -- it's going to be one of the things that keep our campuses safer."

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With more weapons being found on schools campuses, it's more important than ever for school officials to plan for the worst.

The transition to Verkada comes after an assessment by the School Safety Advocacy Council that found the district lacked a centralized location for visitors at WCPSS campuses at each of its schools.

"This did not happen on the heels of any incident that happened across this country," said Smith when asked what led to this decision. Smith said the board was 'very proactive' in making sure school officials and administrators had a visitor management software system that kept track of foot traffic on campus. "I don't want to say that it doesn't impact us. But we don't jump to address things as a result of something as a result of a tragedy that happens across the country."

The $532,000 price tag will be split, with $432,000 going toward the Verkada software itself and $100,000 tagged for West Virginia-based BizTec for implementation of the software.

Smith said Verkada will check visitors against the Sex Offender Registry, create hall passes and identify adults who have protective orders against them or others.

"We will certainly be watching what we have in place. And at the end of three years a decision will have to be made (if we will continue)," Smith said. "I guess that's always a possibility. But we feel like we're in a good place with what we have with the system that we chose and we'll see how it works."

Verkada will begin being used for the 2023-2024 school year in year-round schools before traditional schools get an opportunity to use the software.