LONDONDERRY — In the hopes of better preparing town offices for a mass-shooter-type emergency, Londonderry town hall is upgrading its security response software, which promises to directly patch in the occupants to local police, and supply more exact information to emergency responders.
“We’re beefing up our security that we have here at town hall, mostly for our employees and the citizens who are doing business here,” Town Manager Kevin Smith said.
This month, the town will be adopting a desktop software and mobile application called IN FORCE911, which is developed by In Force Technology LLC.
Employees will be able to activate an alarm during an emergency situation, which will send a direct line of instantaneous communication to local police dispatch.
The Londonderry School District has had the same program in place for the past two or three years, Smith said. But the town offices have used another third-party security company that’s alerted when a panic button is pushed, which then alerts police.
The new program will cut out the middle man, Smith said. It also provides police with more accurate information such as the specific room from which the alarm originated, which the current system cannot do.
Smith said the existing service takes too long, especially considering that the police station is located right next to town offices.
“It would be quicker for me to yell out the window than it would be to push that button,” he said.
The move is part of a larger effort to improve security. Smith said the mass shooting at a municipal center in the Prince Anne area of Virginia Beach in May is a recent example of the need to take extra precaution. In the May incident, a disgruntled town employee killed 12 people and wounded four others.
“We don’t think we can be proactive enough in that area,” Smith said. “It’s unfortunate, but you see these things happening more frequently now.”
Last year the town spent about $2,000 to install new security cameras at town hall. The new software will cost $1,800 in the first year, and $1,200 each year after that. Smith said it will come out of the IT budget. The current third-party system costs the town $200 per year.
Eventually, Smith would also like to install a new intercom system that can be used to instantly alert occupants of an emergency.
In Force Technology is a Massachusetts-based company. In a press release, it says the program provides a “vital link” between those inside a municipal or school building and those rushing in to help.
Londonderry Police Capt. Patrick Cheetham said the program ensures a faster response.
“The instantaneous alert to a threat in our schools and town offices will reduce emergency response time and likely save lives or serious injury if an actual threat presents itself,” Cheetham said.