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Increasing School Safety Through the Power of a HALO

Ingram Micro Success Story

Vaping is an epidemic health experts are not talking about much these days but remains a powerful and potentially deadly influence on today’s youth. What was marketed as a “safe alternative” to combustible tobacco and cigarettes has proven to be highly addictive and laced with new and toxic chemicals cloaked by creative branding.

Compounding the silent and growing epidemic is a troubling study from researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine linking vaping to a substantially increased risk of COVID-19 among teenagers and young adults. So now, in addition to managing through the global pandemic, school administrators must address vaping among students.

It is a scenario that has gone from bad to worse. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not set off smoke detectors, making them a popular go-to in school bathrooms. According to an article in the New York Times, one Alabama school removed the doors from bathroom stalls to deter students from sneaking inside to vape. A school forfeited a volleyball game in Colorado after finding widespread vaping (and other infractions) by the team.

While these actions, along with educating students about the harm caused by vaping can deliver a positive result, IT solution provider ACP CreativIT says they have uncovered an emerging tech solution that not only solves schools’ on-premises vaping challenges but addresses several other safety initiatives as well.

Giving educators a safety edge

Jim Grass is the General Manager of Public Sector at ACP, a full-service IT solution provider that has been serving government, education, SMBs and large enterprises alike since 1984. Grass has years of experience in the IT channel and running world-class public sector organizations. He has witnessed first-hand the growing concerns among K–12 school administrators regarding vaping and now COVID-19.

He sees a lot of promise in helping educators curb vaping in schools with IoT (Internet of Things) technologies. During his research and with his value-added distributor partner, Ingram Micro and its partner-led community Trust X Alliance, Grass discovered the HALO Smart Sensor manufactured by IP Video Corporation. This HALO is a multi-sensor device that can detect vapor and/or THC from electronic cigarettes, gunshots, aggressive language/bullying, air quality index and much more.

Last year, ACP began selling the HALO Smart Sensor in mid-2019, and since then, has deployed thousands of units in nearly 200 districts across the country. “So many schools aren’t aware that there is a product on the market that can help them combat student vaping. After we give them a deep dive on the technology and a live demo, it’s just a matter of finding funding for a deployment,” says Grass. “Because of the gunshot, bullying, and air quality functionality, these devices qualify for school safety grants as well as CARES funding.

In addition to the sales pipeline Grass is generating with the HALO, he says seeing the results from satisfied clients has been rewarding.

“We continue to receive feedback that vaping has declined after a deployment and schools are referring others. We recently had a K–12 customer in Minnesota invite the local news station to report on their results,” says Grass. “One of the students featured in the news segment said she avoided using the bathrooms because there was so much vaping going on. After the sensors were installed, the vaping problem went away and now the student has no hesitation using the school restrooms. It’s a great feeling to hear stories like that.”

Easy to assemble, but expertise is required

Although the HALO IoT Smart Sensors are easy to install, Grass says a successful deployment requires deep product knowledge and regular check ins with the customer. “With all the extra disinfectants being used to sanitize bathrooms and other public spaces, the devices may need to be fie-tuned to work optimally in each restroom,” he says. “Additionally, the firmware needs to be updated every three to six months and customers must be trained to ensure they understand all the features and functions to receive the full value of their investment.”

Additionally, these technologies are being used by school districts for other means including general safety measures and preventing or responding to violence. “The HALO devices come with 11 sensors, and they can be programmed to detect specific sounds, such as a gunshot, and they can even distinguish the tone of a person’s voice to help mitigate against bullying,” he says. “They also have voice recognition capabilities built-in, like an Amazon Alexa, and can be programmed to listen for certain key phrases, monitor air quality and much more. All these features require configuration by a knowledgeable IT solution provider to ensure optimal performance and compliance.”

Adding to its value, there are no ongoing licensing costs associated with the HALO IoT sensors, says Grass, but that doesn’t mean channel partners can’t earn recurring revenue. “The OEM offers a cloud-based subscription add-on that provides analyses across the fleet of devices,” he says. “For example, an administrator may have 100 units deployed across a school district. With the analysis tool, the admin can hone in on problem schools or problem areas within a school where there is a higher incidence of vaping or aggressive behavior and then enact policies to correct those issues. The analysis tool is sold as a subscription, which resellers can use to earn incremental recurring revenue, in addition to the monthly recurring revenue from providing end-to-end product support.”

The one success component you shouldn’t dismiss

Besides having the right products and the expertise to implement, train customers and provide technical support, Grass says there is another critical component to his company’s success. “You need a technology distributor partner who is reliable, knows the ins and outs of the marketplace, and is always on the hunt for emerging technologies,” he says. “We buy our entire product portfolio from Ingram Micro, and they know our technicians and salespeople very well. Anytime we need a point product or solution, they have it in stock, and can quickly turn around pricing and orders. Plus, their training and support are top notch. Without this kind of partnership, we couldn’t grow our business at the rate we’ve experienced over this past year.”

For more information on IP Video’s HALO Smart Sensor, visit our website.

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