In January 2023, Avertere went live after eight months of interviews to learn from administrators, faculty members, and parents about school challenges. Co-founders Matt Friedman, a former Navy Seal, serial entrepreneur, school/housing construction builder, and water sports inventor, and Jack Britton, a Marine Corps Intelligence veteran turned Cybersecurity consultant, joined forces with a shared vision of creating meaningful change.
Let's begin with what we believe is the problem statement.
Since adopting technology in the education sector, we have noticed three problems:
- Technology has increased the complexity of safety and security in school.
- Due to the complexity introduced, the safety and security burdens distract administrators and faculty members from their primary mission: to teach our kids an appropriate curriculum.
- Technology sees no boundaries; therefore, teachers and students are no longer influenced by just their teachers and immediate community within the confines of the classroom walls.
The classroom is influenced by many, reaching teachers and students across multiple devices; not everyone has good intentions. We believe this is the heart of the following problems: negatively impacted behavior, cyberbullying, increased suicides, active shooters, missing children, vandalism, and cybersecurity or ransomware risk, which can lead to increased child identity theft.
We interviewed hundreds of administrators, faculty members, and parents during our due diligence months. We learned many are tackling the above problems by purchasing more technology, adding to the safety and security burden. Although there is good intention here, IT, admin, and faculty members are inundated with the data. Unfortunately, highly valued data indicating which child to intervene with for their safety or the safety of others is lost in the noise, and technology is used reactively rather proactively.
We learned that although financial decisions are made at the board level, purchasing decisions are often made at the school level and usually are not strategic or at a district level based on policy requirements. For example, one district we interviewed had six different types of cameras across six schools; therefore, if an incident occurs, each school would require people to know the technology and the processes to respond. Is this an appropriate level of efficiency or use of technology to respond to a school shooting?
One school revealed they bought a camera to place in front of the bathrooms to identify kids who are partaking in devious licks (vandalism, behavior influence from TikTok). What about cameras that can perform biometrics, concealed weapons detection, vape detection, identify predators, and identify expelled or suspended students or strangers on campus?
ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS
There are three root causes for the problem statement mentioned above.
- Social media has a dopamine effect on humans and is designed to consume attention; therefore, teachers and students are easily distracted from the curriculum. They are constantly connected to notifications driven from outside the classroom.
- Technology sees no boundaries; as a result, anyone can reach the classroom. Avertere has a way to combat this, but it requires policy from the district level dictating expected behavior in the classroom, then a strategy for detecting outside influences and blocking its access to school systems; as a result, no inbound or outbound influence on kids and teachers. Furthermore, it requires the communities and parents at home to learn from the schools regarding how they can enforce their behavior policies on all home devices. This approach would take a year or two to start seeing positive impacts; it can have a positive trickle-down effect on Active Shooting, Cyber Bullying, Suicides, and even IT risks such as remote school work or the availability of systems delivering curriculum safely to students.
- Ad-hoc buying of technology solutions results in inefficient or reactive use of technology, not to mention overlapping capabilities and overspending.
FINANCIAL AND PEOPLE IMPACTS
The following are some of the financial impacts.
- Recently, vandalism or devious licks was a Tik-Tok challenge that influenced kids to cost an average of $25,000 of tangible school damages. Although vandalism happens more frequently, administrators and teachers respond more urgently to this type of event than in the following two examples. It is probably because it happens in the physical world, and it is easier to feel or measure its immediate impacts.
- Ransomware, remediation costs the education sector an average of $2.75 million in 2022; the immediate impact is the reduction or elimination of the availability of school systems to deliver curriculum to students. The long-term and less direct effect is the free and available school data to download. For example, student passports, social security cards, private emails, and notes on student behavior or vulnerabilities; information advantageous to child predators who prey on vulnerable children.
- According to Rand Corporation, the tangible and intangible cost of a mass shooter in education is approximately $3.5 Million. Note this is the cost to the school within the ecosystem of the school's control; there is no way to measure human impact or intangibles once the impacted individual leaves the school system.
Avertere is pioneering a School Security Operations Center designed by educators and parents. Our services and solutions are people-centric first, non-punitive, and help our administrators, faculty members, and parents identify indicators for intervention with a child who needs help. Avertere is your school ally in defending people and your school systems.
Avertere is a complete Cybersecurity consulting and services firm dedicated solely to student and administrative safety within the education sector. We want to bring security to all schools and converge physical and cybersecurity services on behalf of the education sector, so our teachers can focus on teaching.
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