Nicole Allien, Instructional Technologist at Caddo Parish Public Schools (CPPS), has witnessed first-hand how the pandemic and social distancing have impacted her students with the help of Lightspeed Alert™. “Since students went home in March , I’ve had so many more Alert notifications, with more of them being real threats than not,” says Allien.
Lightspeed Alert is an early-warning threat detection system that prevents self-harm, cyberbullying, suicide, and school violence. AI technology scans and flags concerning indicators within educational apps, browsers, documents, as well as chat messaging, and social media platforms.
Alerts are sent simultaneously to Caddo Parish safety personnel and to highly trained, 24/7/365 Lightspeed Safety Specialists, who then conduct a threat assessment. Imminent threats are immediately escalated to Allien and designated CPPS safety personnel and/or law enforcement, giving CPPS peace of mind that no alert will go unnoticed, no matter the day or time.
With 38,000 students in the district, it can be frighteningly easy to miss the early warning signs of self-harm or suicide contemplation—even more so when teachers aren’t able to physically see their students. Caddo Parish began testing Lightspeed Alert during its beta stage, and even then CPPS understood what a powerful resource it was for next level student protection. Allien describes, “In the first eleven days that we had Lightspeed Alert we recieved 38 alerts. The burden that I carry is not near as heavy now that I know we have safety specialists on the back end telling me that 16 of these 38 Alerts, I’ve gotten, are of real concern.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on students’ mental health and well-being was immediately obvious. “We have had 25% more notifications from [Lightspeed] Alert since the start of COVID,” Allien states. “With students isolated at home, this feature is incredibly valuable.”
This statistic has increased in meaning for Allien. “Just recently there were two different potential suicide threats in one weekend.” Allien goes on to explain, “I was out of the office on a Friday and received an Alert notification. It was a self-harm alert so I called the school to confirm they saw it, too. They did and pulled the student out of class. He broke down and said he was thinking about suicide and was looking at ways to do it. The student was able to get help because of that alert!”
“Our students took devices home when COVID hit, and we had a kid who was contemplating suicide. I got an email alert from Lightspeed [Alert], which I forwarded to their principal. The principal called their parents, and it was a legitimate threat. The student has since had some help, and I fear that without Lightspeed Alert, they may not be here with us today. That’s how real this is.” Allien says.
For Allien, the speed and accuracy of Alert is critical to saving students’ lives. “Before Lightspeed Alert, when I would notice something concerning, I would have to go and dig down and take screenshots and share them with everyone who needed to be aware of the situation,” she notes. “Now with [Lightspeed] Alert it takes the screenshots for me. I can easily forward that screenshot straight to the principal, they can see what I’m looking at so we can talk about it, or I can send it right to a parent if they’re at home.”
How valuable are these features when it comes to protecting students? According to Allien, more valuable than words can describe. “If you can put a number above 100% valuable, then that’s how valuable it is,” says Allien. “The time saved when using this feature versus what I used to do is critical in saving a life. Lightspeed Alert screenshots the information for me, and I know immediately what I need to do.” She adds, “I have a 15-20 minute head-start with [Lightspeed] Alert, which is time saved when potentially saving a life.”
In addition to flagging for self-harm and suicide, Lightspeed Alert has been instrumental in flagging for violence, cyberbullying, and advanced attempts to bypass content filtering as well. “We’ve caught kids threatening each other, we’ve stopped fights in the hallways,” says Allien, “since Lightspeed [Alert], our students have started behaving a lot better.”
When asked if she would recommend Lightspeed Alert to other districts, Allien agreed wholeheartedly. “I can’t speak to [Lightspeed] Alert enough. I can say with 100% certainty that it’s saved lives, numerous ones.