- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - Five school districts in Illinois are testing an emergency response system that gives first responders instant access to information such as building layouts before, during and after a crisis.

The Illinois Association of School Boards is sponsoring the pilot project involving the use of the “NaviGate Prepared” security system. The system stores school information on the Internet so first responders can access it immediately.

The data will allow emergency response teams to view and share crisis plans, locate access points, tap into security camera feeds and easily view other important information, the organization said in its October newsletter.

Schools in Quincy, Grayslake, Fisher, Cuba and Robinson are participating in the state’s pilot project, the Quincy Herald-Whig (http://bit.ly/11XglL2 ) reported. The Quincy School District is currently gathering information and loading it into the online storage system, according to Joel Murphy, the district’s business manager.

“Basically it’s taking all of our crisis plans and crisis information and putting it the system electronically so it can be easily accessed in case of an emergency,” he said.

NaviGate representatives visited Quincy last week to photograph classrooms and hallways inside each of the district’s schools. The crew used a special camera that compiles a 360-view of a room, which makes it easy for first responders to see how everything is laid out and decide what the best point of entry is in an emergency situation.

Quincy schools should have the system up and running later this year, he said.

NaviGate was created in response to recent shootings at schools throughout the country. The program stems from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security initiative.

“Anything that can save us a couple of seconds or make things easier in times of a crisis, I think it’s a great tool to have,” Murphy said.

The system is being used by 175 school districts nationwide.

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://www.whig.com

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