NewsLocal NewsLee County

Actions

New school mapping technology learns from the battlefield

Mapping technology used during wars overseas, now being used to keep schools safe.
school map
Posted at 4:21 PM, Nov 02, 2023

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — When tragedy strikes, every second matters to save lives.

In hopes of saving precious seconds, both Lee and Collier County schools have installed mapping technology that gives detailed looks at all the schools in the counties.

In the event of an active shooter, or any other kind of tragedy, local law enforcement would have access to printed and digital maps that show the school, the entrances and exits, and other important details.

“Some of these districts have hundreds of schools. They know when their swat team shows up, or their patrol officers show up, they have no idea where room 201 is in the high school,” said Alex Carney, the Chief Operating Officer at Critical Response Group, a New Jersey based company that installed the mapping technology at the local schools.

LEARNING FROM HISTORY

When a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012, killing 26 people, investigators later found first responders didn’t have access to maps or blueprints of the school.

The After Action Report from the Connecticut State Police recommended that Major Crime units have “access to the necessary standard and specialized equipment,” including “large scale mapping equipment.”

This year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 301, which requires every school in the state to install this mapping technology.

It also provides grants to pay for the maps.

Lee and Collier counties installed the maps before the new law was in place.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, at a press conference in 2020 announcing the technology, said it “provides real-time, high-resolution maps of emergency scenes to our deputies and other first responders."

"This technology dramatically improves response to critical incidents at major facilities in Lee County," he said.

BRINGING THE TECHNOLOGY HOME

Carney is a retired Marine Special Forces Officer, who served as the ground force commander for dozens of high-risk raids in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Often times, those raids included allies from other countries and agencies.

Without a similar language or training, the maps were the only thing all sides could agree on.

“Overseas, the best operators in the world are constantly talking over these maps during operations so we can communicate. Because we’re always in a new place,” said Carney. “You're trying to enable someone who is under a great deal of stress, on a really bad day, how can you give them situational awareness of this really big campus.”