Schafer addresses school security conference

Dr. Tom Schafer, assistant professor of geosciences at Fort Hays State University, was invited to speak at the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools 2005 Conference on Aug. 18.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, leaders at the national, regional, and local levels and experts from various fields of health, education, mental health, substance abuse prevention, and violence prevention met in Washington D.C.

Schafer presented information on Project SafeNet, which has been a joint project between FHSU and Hays USD 489. Project SafeNet uses geographic information systems, or digital mapping, to increase school security and enhance crisis response preparation.

In cooperation with Hays USD 489, a sample digital map was developed. Using a local school as an example, Schafer and a team of GIS students digitally mapped the building and surrounding area with layers of information. The information on the digital map -- such as evacuation routes, location of tornado shelters, or the location of utility shut offs -- would be available electronically to school district and safety personnel in the event of an emergency. The type of information and access to this information is determined by the school district.

The Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools is particularly interested in Project SafeNet in developing a how-to manual which will soon be available to other school districts across the nation. The Project SafeNet document will enable many districts to develop similar digital maps for their own schools.

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