Shooting underscores need for safety measures in schools

Local authorities in West Liberty, Ohio, credited school staffers with stopping a shooter, The Houston Chronicle reported. Employees of West Liberty-Salem school quickly subdued the 17-year-old student, who injured two students, until police were on the scene. The details of this event illustrate the need for emergency preparedness measures at schools across the nation. One way teachers, principals and administrators can prepare for such an event is by investing in two-way radios. 

According to the Dayton Daily News, Ely Serna, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, shot another student multiple times. The victim, 16-year-old Logan Cole, suffered damage to the spine and lungs, his father told the news. Another student suffered minor injuries.

The first reports of shots fired came at 7:36 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 20. Once students and staff were notified, those who could fled the school. Others barricaded themselves in classrooms. After the situation was under control and everyone was reported safe, students were evacuated to a nearby park.

"I can't say how pleased I am with how staff and students handled this today," West Liberty-Salem Schools Superintendent Kraig Hissong wrote in a message posted on the school's website, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Staff and students quickly barricaded themselves in classrooms during an Ohio shooting.Staff and students quickly barricaded themselves in classrooms during an Ohio shooting.

Responding to on-campus emergencies

The school's ability to respond to the situation quickly and efficiently likely kept other students from getting injured. In an age when incidents like these are increasingly uncommon, staff need to be able to communicate with each other instantly to protect everyone within their buildings. Two-way radios are an affordable option for school districts, which are often underfunded and forced to used old resources. Portable options like the Motorola SL300 provide crystal-clear audio so teachers and administrators can maintain contact in the event of an emergency.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

As projects dwindle, Houston developers must save money with two-way radios

Construction in Houston isn't what it used to be. Research from the Greater Houston Partnership found construction starts in the area fell nearly 40 percent between 2015 and 2016, from $1.27 billion to $766.7 million. Residential starts fell approximately 4 percent, while nonresidential starts fell a whopping 74 percent. These drops hint at a future where construction within the metro area isn't as profitable and developers will be forced to take cost-saving measures. One such way to save money while still focusing on worker safety is to invest in two-way radios.

"Two-way radios save money while keeping construction workers safe."

The state of Houston construction

According to the Houston Chronicle, the drop in construction is due to the increased availability of space in apartments and commercial buildings. Companies have less reason to start on new buildings which, according to Houston Public Media, could affect the area's economy.

"If it wasn't for the losses that we're going to see in construction this year, job growth in Houston would be fairly healthy," Patrick Jankowski, regional economist with the Greater Houston Partnership, told Houston Public Media. "But what we're going to see is the construction industry actually being a drag on Houston's economy in 2017."

Construction companies should employ cost-saving measures now to prepare for a decline in revenue as the year progresses. Two-way radios like the Motorola XPR 3300e provide clear audio and are strong enough to withstand the dangers of a construction site, including chemical exposure and inclement weather. In addition, the device's GPS feature allows workers to locate each other and coordinate movements to best complete projects or respond to an accident.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

Rented radios allow demonstration organizers to maintain contact

This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. assembled in the District of Columbia. These people had various reasons for converging in the nation's capital, and some of these gatherings, particularly the Women's March, were replicated across the country. Such demonstrations have occurred throughout history, yet each one carries a potential threat to participants, law enforcement and bystanders. Two-way radios allow the organizers of such events to ensure everyone's safety and quickly spread important news. 

Maintaining contact with two-way radios

Cellphones are notoriously unreliable during large gatherings. Although the phone's display might say service is available, calls and messages rarely go through, and uploading and downloading media successfully is a gamble. This is because everyone in the area is competing to connect to the same wireless cell site. All of this traffic overloads the network, creating an unreliable situation where people have difficulty contacting each other.

"Two-way radios let rally marshals ensure the event proceeds as planned."

This is exceptionally problematic during public demonstrations. One valid concern during these events is that a person or group of people will become violent or start rioting, causing property damage and possibly harming others. Another is that a person will have a medical emergency but be unable to get assistance. That's why demonstrations, marches, parades and the like are staffed with marshals. These people are responsible for ensuring the event proceeds as planned. They look out for situations that threaten the health and safety of attendees and contact medical services or law enforcement if need be. 

Therefore, it's incredibly important for marshals to have a reliable form of communication. These individuals will be stationed around the designated area – the U.S. Department of Justice declared marshals should be located at the assembly point, near any stages and at critical locations around the area. If the demonstration includes a march, some marshals should also continue alongside the demonstrators.

Two-way radios allow these marshals to relay information despite their distance. They can respond quickly in the event of an emergency or even a simple change in plans. For example, according to the Chicago Tribune, a recent rally and march in Chicago attracted nearly a quarter-million participants. The organizers, who had initially expected around 50,000 attendees, had to quickly cancel the march portion due to the large attendance. 

"There is no safe way to march," event co-chairwoman Ann Scholhamer told the Chicago Tribune at the time.

Renting radios for marches, parades and demonstrations

Two-way radios help coordinators and marshals like Scholhamer spread the word about these changes instantly. They're efficient, reliable and inexpensive, providing clear sound and an easy-to-use interface.

Yet event organizers might not be willing to purchase radios for a demonstration that only lasts a few hours. Thankfully, Houston Communications provides both short- and long-term radio rental solutions for the Houston area. Rental periods last from days to months – organizers will likely want to acquire them ahead of time, as the DOJ recommended at least a month of marshal training. This way, marshals are fully prepared in the event of a change in plans, disturbance or medical emergency.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

Texas schools increase police presence to ensure student safety

Schools across the nation were spurred into action after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Hoping to avoid another such tragedy, these institutions have increased police presence and installed additional security cameras to monitor activity on campus. Another way schools can focus on safety is by equipping security and faculty with two-way radios. These inexpensive, reliable forms of communication let adults contact each other across buildings, keeping people informed of any potential threats.

Austin schools work to protect students

"Two-way radios would be a great addition to the Austin Independent School District."

Two-way radios would be a great addition to the Austin Independent School District. According to a local CBS affiliate, the school system has already increased the number of police at local facilities. Initially, police were only present at high schools. Now, there's one officer for every dozen elementary schools, bringing the total to about 90.

In addition, anyone entering the schools must identify themselves and be buzzed in by a staff member. Their ID is scanned through the sex offender registry. AISD also added security cameras to its campuses and instilled other security measures it doesn't want the public to know about.

"It is something that I don't want to happen again in our country, much less here in our district, but in order for us to do the best we can to ensure it doesn't happen, we have to train for it we have to prepare for it," Eric Mendez, AISD chief, told the news organization.

Schools planning to increase their security should invest in two-way radios so officers and faculty can keep in contact should a threat arise. Portable models like the Motorola SL300 let people clearly speak with each other while on the go, whether they're ushering students to safety or in pursuit of a criminal. In addition, DispatchPlus by pvdWireless increases student safety with vehicle GPS monitoring and action reports, as well as radio communication back to dispatch.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

Two-way radios help during hosted events

Two-way radios are an inexpensive, reliable way to provide security and ensure major events that travel to various host cities – for example, the FIFA World Cup, the G8 Summit or the Super Bowl – run smoothly. 

The latter will take place in Houston, and while preparations are well underway, city organizers are likely keeping an eye on another event coming. According to the Houston Business Journal, the city will host the World Petroleum Congress, an event held every three years, in 2020. Organizers expect to see crowds of over 10,000 and anticipate an economic impact of $60 million to $80 million. The last time Houston hosted the event was in 1987.

"A lot has happened in the 30 years since the U.S. last hosted the WPC," Galen Cobb, Halliburton Co.'s vice president of industry relations, said in a press release, according to the Houston Business Journal. "As the energy capital of the world, there is no better city than Houston to showcase the conference, technologies and energy revolution that is taking place right in our backyard."

Using radios to maintain order at events

When recurring events take place at different cities, the potential for disorder increases. Attendees, unfamiliar with the location, can easily become lost or agitated. In addition, disorderly persons might try to crash the event, pursuing their own agendas.

"Two-way radios allow event officials to address any unexpected occurrences."

Two-way radios allow event officials to address these and any other unexpected day-of occurrences. They're less expensive than cellphones and provide greater clarity in noisy settings – for instance, when a crowd of 10,000 is moving from one location to another. In fact, radios like the Motorola XPR3000e series offer the voice quality, battery life and range of digital solutions and are still compatible with analog technology. In addition, event planners can rent radios for specific events instead of purchasing them. This is often the economical choice, especially if the city doesn't need additional radios for its daily operations. They can simply rent radios for the duration of the event, then return them without wasting additional resources or searching for storage space.

While cities do all they can to make sure major events like the World Petroleum Congress run smoothly, there's always a possibility things won't go according to plan. If organizers have to make last minute changes – finding a new building to host attendees or directing foot traffic away from a hazard, for example – they can easily communicate via two-way radios. What's more, these devices allow a person to contact all event coordinators at once, getting important messages to all members of staff as succinctly and efficiently as possible.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

EMTs, other first responders face unique communication needs

Communication capabilities are key for first responders because they need to be able to understand the situations they rush into on an ongoing basis. Many municipalities are now working to enhance the technology first responders like EMTs, police and firefighters use to communicate as a means of helping them save more lives, but more some experts are concerned that more may need to be done.

In Lisbon, Iowa, county officials spent about $500,000 to move an unused communications tower to enhance first responders' radio communications capabilities and eliminate a number of troublesome "dead spots," according to a report from Cedar Rapids television station KCRG. As a consequence, it's believed the hilly areas and tighter spaces in the region that previously caused outages in radio communications will, for the most part no longer be an issue.

Effective communications make first responders' jobs a lot easier.Effective communications make first responders' jobs a lot easier.

How well does it work?
The new tower was tested for a week before becoming more widely available to first responders in the area, and as far as officials could tell, there's only one "dead spot" left in the county, the report said. This is good news because the nearby Mount Vernon police station sometimes struggled with outages inside its own walls.

"As a firefighter, if something happens, whether you fall through the floor or the roof or the roof collapses on you in that fire, it's peace of mind to know you have that portable radio on you to say 'I'm in trouble, I need help,'" Capt. Dave Knott, Linn County communications division commander, told the station.

Adding mobile two-way radios with high-quality audio capabilities, easy-to-read displays, and application support including text messaging can go a long way toward further boosting comms capabilities.

Lingering issues
Even as cities and counties move to address these issues, many experts believe efforts must go further, according to CBS New York. For instance, first responders in New York City say their radio systems often don't work when they respond to calls on the city's subway system.

Local governments can invest in improved communications systems that ensure that dispatchers and first responders communicate effectively as they undertake important life-saving duties on a daily basis. This kind of effort can spell the difference between life and death for some calls, and empowering EMTs, firefighters and police officers to make the best possible decisions in the field is vital.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

Hospitality businesses still see value in two-way radios

For years, hospitality businesses have relied on two-way radios as a means of effectively communicating important messages across huge facilities. However, more companies are pushing to incorporate mobile devices like smartphones into those efforts, even though some experts believe this effort may prove costly or even ineffective for hospitality businesses.

Equipping workers with their own smartphones, or allowing them to use their personal devices for work purposes, might sound like a good idea in theory, but it can be difficult to implement in practice. Cellphone signals are far more prone to dead spots than traditional two-way radios, and these handheld devices come with a price tag of hundreds of dollars each, according to a report from the Council of Communication Associations. While they may seem slightly easier to use, this isn't always the case.

Two-way radios vital to communications in the hospitality industrySecurity guards and other hospitality employees can benefit from upgraded radio systems.

Better, more cost-effective communication
The fact is that many two-way radios these days come with the same kinds of features that smartphones provide. That includes text messaging, which can help to provide hotel or convention center decision-makers with the ability to discretely get important messages to their employees without fear that they won't get through, the report said. In addition, pairing them with Bluetooth ear pieces or other modern listening devices can also make the sound of radio chatter less obtrusive for guests.

When making these kinds of upgrades to modern two-way radios, which are still far less expensive than smartphones, consider upgrading the equipment that facilitates that kind of communication. Boosting radio capabilities within a large facility can go a long way toward making sure every message is understood loud and clear. Two-way radios with application support like text messaging and embedded Bluetooth technology offer greater connectivity and communications capabilities.

Adoption in action
One recent plan to upgrade radio communications capabilities recently went into effect at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, according to a report from the Glendale Star. There, the city council voted unanimously to approve upgrade funds for a number of aspects of the arena, including improvements for its two-way radio system, which recently went from analog to digital. Officials at the arena had been requesting further upgrades for years, but they had never been pushed through until recently.

"While council approved [funding] each year, the previous arena manager didn't spend most of those funds," Glendale Public Works director Jack Friedline told the newspaper.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

Two-way radios key to maximizing construction efficiency

While a wide variety of communications options are available to construction companies, most experts agree that for ease of use and range of options, there's little that can replace the two-way radio. The technology that has worked for decades will continue to do so in the future, while also allowing companies to keep up with advances similar to smartphone features.

The issue many in construction face these days is that workers may prefer to communicate on their smartphones. However, construction sites often have infamous service "dead spots," and foremen might have to deal with the fact that it's easier for workers to ignore a text than a radio communication. This kind of integration, then, can be vital to getting work done properly and perhaps safely.

Workers with two-way radios will be able to communicate more effectively.Workers with two-way radios will be able to communicate more effectively.

Prepare for any eventuality
Radios also provide additional flexibility for reaching more than one person at a given time to relay the same message, and they can actually become crucial in emergencies, the report said. When things go wrong on a construction site, radioing for help is easier than calling a phone number or sending a text; all you have to do is press a button.

Still, modern radios can also incorporate functions like text messages while still carrying the reliability of radio service that smartphones might not have. For even more reliability, some technologies now allow companies to tap into nearby internet connectivity to further boost service.

Other benefits
Two-way radios also tend to be far less expensive to equip on a job site than, say, smartphones, according to Equipment World. They don't need to be replaced every few years as many smartphones do, nor do they require nearly as much of an initial investment. This means more radios can be put into a larger number of workers' hands, leading to more effective communications. Further, these devices tend to be far more durable than a smartphone and can therefore stand up to the rigors of almost any job.

The sooner construction firms of all sizes can upgrade their two-way radios to meet more modern demands, the better off both they and their workers will be in terms of getting jobs done efficiently and on-budget.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

As Texas manufacturing grows, communications systems may need updates

Since the end of the recession, the manufacturing business across the entire U.S. has improved significantly as more jobs have come back after years of being outsourced. The same holds true for Texas, thanks to an increase in the amount of work these companies are taking on.

The overall amount of activity in the Texas manufacturing sector ticked up somewhat significantly in August, with the state's production index rising to a seasonally adjusted reading of 4.5 after being at just 0.4 a month earlier, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. That was the third-highest rating seen in the past year, edged out only by the 5.8 observed in April, and the 12.7 from last December. In August 2015, production was significantly slower, at minus-1.5, indicating a declining industry at that time.

Do manufacturers have the communications infrastructure to keep up with rising demand?Do manufacturers have the communications infrastructure to keep up with rising demand?

Addressing the industry's changes
Communication is near the top of the list of what goes into effective and efficient manufacturing, along with well-trained workers and the latest machinery. With this in mind, manufacturing companies may want to take a closer look at whether their current communication systems meet their needs and consider what those needs might look like in the future. That kind of evaluation may go a long way toward helping them better compete in an increasingly competitive field.

New realities mean changing communications needs
Factories across Texas may be scaling back hiring because modern technology simply allows them to produce the same amount of output with greater efficiency. Nonetheless, workers need to be able to communicate effectively, and MOTOTRBO Capacity Plus technology from Motorola can help in this regard.

One recent case study from the tech giant found that noise on some factory floors can reach 120 decibels, but the right kind of two-way radios can filter out background noise so people in two different parts of a facility can communicate effectively regardless.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!

Texas colleges can improve security with new communications equipment

Campus security has been a big talking point at many colleges and universities across the U.S. in the past several years, giving communications technology a more prominent role. This issue is highlighted by two recent initiatives at the University of Texas in Austin to make sure students are safe while they experience the college life.

For instance, the school had requested the audit from the Texas Department of Public Safety for recommendations on how to improve safety after a student was killed on campus earlier this year.

UT Austin will soon see major security upgrades.UT Austin will soon see major security upgrades.

The Department of Public Safety's recommendations
The state recommended a number of changes, including bringing on more staffers such as University Police and security guards, upgrading video and communications systems, better lighting, and more security for campus buildings overnight. In addition, the school has also launched its own public awareness effort to educate students about how they can protect themselves and each other from safety issues.

"Keeping our community safe is my first priority," University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves said in an email message today to the UT community. "This has been a historically safe campus, and the DPS report recognizes the university's efforts to protect students, employees and visitors. DPS, however, also identifies potential vulnerabilities and issues the university should rectify."

Student government pitching in
Meanwhile, the school's student government is also working toward the goal of a safer campus, according to the student newspaper the Daily Texan. The recently organized SURE Walk was a huge success when it launched last spring, but more efforts are on the way. For example, the university will utilize golf carts for security personnel, flashlights, and portable two-way radios. Organizers are also working to recruit more volunteers to help escort students around campus as safely as possible.

"SURE walk makes me feel like there's an option for safety, which even if I don't need provides reassurance," UT junior Alice Rizzo told the newspaper.

These days, it's especially important to ensure college campuses across the Lone Star State – from Texas Tech to Sam Houston State University – provide a safe environment for students. Taking a careful look at their communications capabilities can help to inform future decisions about how to how best to boost campus security.

Houston Communications is an award-winning provider of two-way radios, broadband wireless networking, and CCTV/security systems. For more information, check out our website today!