A Leesburg entrepreneur is gaining national attention for new technology that promises to change how large organizations, like school systems, respond to emergencies.
Ara Bagdasarian co-founded Omnilert in 2003 with the capabilities to send out a mass phone call and text message during crisis situations. The company’s latest program, Scenarios, improves on that concept and allows an organization to notify people of a crisis using multiple platforms in an instant.
“That first minute of a crisis is when you need to notify the right people with the right information,” Bagdasarian said.
He gave an example of a high school being placed on lock down, which happens fairly often in Loudoun County’s public schools. In that situation, school system leaders have a long list of communication they need to send out.
“They need to notify parents, update all the TVs at the school to let students know they’re on lock down, call the local police department or ambulance, send out a tweet because if you don’t do that, students will start creating their own story lines of what’s happening,” Bagdasarian said. “Everything that you need to do during that first minute of a crisis you have all of it preloaded into Scenarios. So when something does happen, you initiate it with one click.”
Loudoun County Public Schools uses ConnectED to make mass pre-recorded phone calls during emergencies and other situations, including informing families of snow days. Bagdasarian said there are several programs available that make a mass phone call, but Scenarios offers that capability and more. “Really, where we are unique and accelerated is multimodality, being able to reach multiple kinds of platforms simultaneously.”
The technology has been introduced to more than 1,000 schools and universities nationwide. Last month, Omnilert announced the Scenarios Launcher mobile app for Apple watch, the first wearable emergency notification tool. That means an individual can initiate pre-set messages and directions during an emergency from their watch.
“Communicating has evolved from smoke signals, then Paul Revere-type messengers to this,” Bagdasarian said. “Our whole mission is to try to minimize the time between when an incident occurs and actions are initiated.”
The technology impressed the judges at the Loudoun County Public Schools’ Challenge in October, winning it the Disruptive Technology Award. The event gave startup companies and students a chance to pitch their solutions to some of the school system’s most difficult to solve problems.
Ken Spedden, founder of Innovative Solutions Consortium, the organization that put on the LCPS Challenge, said companies from throughout the country submitted their ideas for the challenge and he was glad to see a Loudoun company walk away with a top award.
“Loudoun County and the technology companies and organizations within its borders are starting to emerge as leaders in innovation,” he said.
Learn more about Scenarios at omnilert.com/scenarios.