MARLBORO COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Marlboro County school officials are looking at joint alert and gun-detection systems designed to help protect students in the event an emergency arises.

The board of education heard from a vendor representative Monday night about a facility-based mass notification system that would be programmed to sound an alarm and send voice messages across a system of speakers installed in high-occupancy areas of a school, such as cafeterias, classrooms and gymnasiums.

The Alertus web-based subscription system would cost $5,000 annually.

When activated, the system would send out alerts set up by the district that would be specific to the type of emergency, whether it be a tornado warning, a lockdown alert, an evacuation notice, or even a notification for an active-shooter, the representative said.

A user could trigger the alerts in a variety of ways, including by using a mobile app, a web-user interface, physical panic buttons and desktop icons. The district would be able to determine which staff members could access the system.

An alarm would sound within seconds of being activated, the representative said.

“Our goal is to make sure everybody within a facility knows that that respective emergency is happening,” the representative said.

The district is also looking at a real-time gun-detection system that uses cameras and AI algorithms to identify weapons as soon as they are visible. The system, however, would not detect a gun that is not visible to the cameras.

The system could be integrated with existing cameras, though the vendor said some older systems could require an upgrade.

According to documents given to the board, the web-based system would send an instantaneous alert to operators at a central station whenever a weapon is drawn. The system also allows any gun threat to be tracked from camera to camera.

Board members plan to discuss the gun-detection system again at their next meeting in November.

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Dennis Bright is a Digital Producer at News13. He joined the team in May 2021. Dennis is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Follow Dennis on, Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.