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How a Chicago-Area district improved school security, school bus safety and communication using FirstNet

Bellwood School District 88 switched to the FirstNet network to improve safety

When Bellwood School District 88 sought a new communication system to help improve student safety and school security, the director of transportation, Tyreese Stafford, chose FirstNet. Headquartered in Cook County, Illinois, Bellwood is in a western suburb of Chicago, where higher crime rates are an ongoing community concern.

To better protect the 2,500-student district and its seven schools – one pre-kindergarten and one preschool, four elementary schools and one middle school – the district implemented FirstNet to improve school security and bus safety for its 800 students on 23 buses.

FirstNet is the wireless communications network built with and for public safety – and those who support their vital efforts in an emergency. This includes school transportation personnel. The biggest concern the district faced was security for students and FirstNet provides good, reliable communication to help address that, Stafford said.

Stafford learned of FirstNet when researching better safety and communication tools for the district’s school buses. Features that caught Stafford’s attention include push-to-talk solutions, which offers the ability to communicate with multiple groups of people at one time via mobile devices. Most importantly, he saw that FirstNet provides schools with near real-time tracking of school buses and instant communication between district staff, and even uplifted priority access when working with fire and rescue.

“There are many different options available with FirstNet that can benefit a school district greatly.”

Tyreese Stafford,
Director of Transportation

“There are many different options available with FirstNet that can benefit a school district greatly,” said Stafford. “You have two-way communication, tracking options, and other capabilities we need to be sure our students are safe and secure.”

In the end, Stafford believes FirstNet offers real benefits over past services used by the Bellwood School District.

“School administrators, custodians, school security – in addition to bus transportation – can communicate through the FirstNet network, which means we have the most important information available to the people who need it no matter the circumstance,” said Stafford.

How FirstNet can help

Student safety while in transit to and from school is the number one priority for parents, schools, and school bus drivers. That’s why FirstNet offers its powerful broadband LTE communications platform to help keep schools connected. FirstNet allows school bus drivers to stay connected so they can focus on what is most important.

With FirstNet, school districts can:

  • Maintain access to voice, data, video, images and texting when emergencies arise
  • Communicate easier with the AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk solution, which is FirstNet Ready™
  • Get enhanced situational awareness with innovative apps and devices

Click Here to Learn More About FirstNet, Built with AT&T