By Jill Nolin

Connecticut-based Mutualink has introduced Mutualink K12, a new interoperable-communications platform designed to directly connect schools with first responders while accommodating a school’s limited budget.

Officially announced earlier this month, Mutualink K12 marks the company’s foray into the school market. The company has deployed Mutualink K12 in seven Dartmouth, Mass., schools and is preparing for other deployments during the next two months, according to Mutualink Chairman and CEO Mark Hatten.

Mutualink K12 is the latest school-targeted solution to the hit market in recent months, as more states and localities allocate funding for security enhancements in response to a rash of school shootings. Mutualink officials believe the company’s approach of decentralized interoperability is ideal for a school environment, and the average cost of $15,000 per school plus licensing fees should be attractive, according to Hatten.

“We feel the school market is a huge market for us,” Hatten said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “They have radio systems many times that are different than police. Many of them have cameras in the school. They have phone systems in there. They also have PA and intercom systems. Why don’t we hook all that up and put it up on the Mutualink network?”

Through invitations, the IP-based voice and data platform connects different communication platforms and does not require radio system or infrastructure upgrades, which helps keep costs low for school budgets, Hatten said. Mutualink K12 will also work with proprietary legacy systems, but more control features have been incorporated for some of them. The PTT audio function will always work, even with proprietary technologies, he said.

Those multimedia-sharing sessions give first responders access to real-time information, whether it is delivered as voice, video, data and/or text communications.

That connection is triggered when school personnel alert 911 via a panic button, which can be a wired panic button or an application on a smartphone. When using the app, an IP message is sent to the Mutualink network to activate the system based on the policy established by the school, starting a multimedia sharing session. Meanwhile, a 911 call is initiated, but the school official will still need to hit “send” to place a call to the 911 call center.

“We’re not going to circumvent (911),” Hatten said.