Using information sharing to combat automated bomb threats against schools

By John Boatman, June 8, 2016 | SHARE

Last week, more than 18 states in four time zones reported automated bomb threats to various elementary, middle and high schools, prompting campus lockdowns as well as broad anxiety from parents. None of the threats proved legitimate, leading some experts to chalk them up to “swatting,” the practice of sending multiple hoax threats at the same time, often automated, in an effort to trigger a large tactical law enforcement response and create disruptions. “Swatting suspects are often more sophisticated,” said Ken Trump, President of National School Safety and Security Services. “They can use voice over IP (VoIP) systems or other technologies that can be virtually impossible to track down.”

This is certainly not the first swatting attempt, nor will it be the last. The key going forward will be how schools and law enforcement officials share threat intelligence quickly in order to determine the best course of action when future swatting attempts occur. These are exactly the kinds of situations that Haystax Constellation for Incident Management was designed to address. The platform can speed law enforcement responses by providing a dynamic, detailed picture of incidents and emerging threats in relation to critical assets such as district schools. Should a campus search be required as part of a bomb threat response, for example, the system maintains floor plans, emergency plans, and photos and contact information for each school, viewable on any device.

Another critical capability for any organization trying to assess the credibility of a threat under time pressure is to determine if it may be part of a larger hoax, as was the recent swatting attempt. Rather than school safety or law enforcement officials having to manually sift through intelligence from various sources, Constellation for Incident Management utilizes a proprietary, risk-based algorithm that ingests data and analyzes it to show key signals in a single screen interface, filtering out the noise. As a result, users can quickly see if any other district – even if it is located across the country – has received a similarly-worded threat.

With a secure cloud-based platform like Constellation for Incident Management, schools can coordinate and share intelligence quickly and efficiently, comparing and contrasting various details from potential incidents, such as swatting attempts. Security personnel could use Mobile Constellation to pick up intelligence in the field and send an alert instantly to decision-makers – ensuring that all school safety stakeholders in a district or law enforcement agency have access to the same information and allowing them to make informed decisions quickly and efficiently.

Haystax Constellation for Incident Management is easy to set up, with no hardware or software requirements, and offers a 14-day free trial. Simply visit this link to get started today.

John Boatman is Director of Industry Solutions at Haystax.