The Essence of nSide: Summer Conferences in Review

Our team has been on the move from one conference to another across Alabama, seeking to gather and provide information as to how we can better foster your school’s safety. nSide team members attended a multitude of events, all of which further the same common goal to promote safe and secure environments through efficient preparations. To share with you our experiences, we asked a series of questions among attendees from the nSide team. In recording their accounts, we hope you will gain insight to the essence of nSide and our genuine desire to fulfill your needs.

Interview Questions:

What were some general highlights of the conference and information you shared?

Were you surprised by any discussion, or able to better learn from your interaction within the event?

What did you find most rewarding about representing nSide at the conference?

TAASRO

The Alabama Association of School Resource Officers placed their 20th Annual “Safe Schools” training conference June 3–7, in Orange Beach, Alabama. The theme for the weekend was “Proactive ways to avert School Violence,” which covered a variety of topics, such as faculty awareness and precautionary methods to secure school safety. nSide School Safety Specialist, Proncey Robertson, volunteered a short summation.

  • “We had administrators, nurses, law enforcement, mental health workers, and social workers, all present with the interest of protecting our schools and learning more about how to work together as a collaborative team. In that course, our job is just to make sure they’re familiar with our platform and see if there’s any way we can better serve their communities and schools.”
  • “Probably one of the biggest challenges is that there’s so many people getting involved in school safety that still don’t know a lot about the tools that are available to them within the nSide School Safety Platform. A lot of our time was spent making sure they know where to find information within their Emergency Operations Plans. The more they’re involved in that the better, and we have to make sure they know how to gain access to those procedures.”
  • “Again, it’s an opportunity to interact with those folks who actually have to do the job on the ground. To learn what they are facing, what their challenges and concerns are, so that we can better react to their needs. I guess the biggest benefit of being at the conference is to learn, because we really do want to be a help. This is not just about selling them a product. It’s about giving them tools that they can actually use in a practical sense. So to do that, we have to talk to them one-on-one and learn about their needs.”

ASTA

The Alabama School Transportation Association’s 77th Annual Conference took place June 3–7, in Mobile, Alabama. The conference provided training for personnel involved in local transportation programs, as well as discussion over hands-on topics. nSide Account Manager, Alan Bentley, shared with us his takeaways from the event.

  • “The conference provides its members an opportunity to attend educational, as well as hands-on, sessions dealing with current school bus transportation topics. I had a booth at the conference representing nSide|Fleet™, our tracking and routing hardware/software for school buses. So, some of the general topics I covered were live bus tracking, route history, bus routing software, how trackers work, and our all-in-one cost.”
  • “I was surprised to receive a question about possible access to bus cameras live, while the bus is on route. Some districts have been interested in this, in case of an emergency, but it’s one of those things that could cost an arm and a leg to accomplish. Since the question has been asked, we’ve taken measures to research with one of our partners and pair together with another company. We’ve been striving to help provide solutions for this feature within nSide|Fleet™. So, now, there’s two options that will allow users access to camera feeds on buses en route.”
  • “What I enjoy is the relationship building aspect. I think it is important to have a strong, trusting relationship. When you reach that point, people feel comfortable enough to call on you.”

ALET

Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology held their summer conference on June 4th, in Hoover Alabama. nSide CTO , John Sercel visited the event and spoke well of their objective for “Alabama EdTech leaders to discuss system-level challenges and solutions.”

  • “What we’ve been talking about is the new Technical Point of Contact program to get technology leaders at different school districts access to nSide organization administration. So, they’ll be able to manage their own users and districts in the nSide School Safety Platform. We had pamphlets there, as well, to generate interest in Verkada cameras and ask them about what their current camera systems are.”
  • “It was interesting to learn what they knew about their camera systems. Schools will have a wide variety of cameras from all different manufacturers, some of them are going to be older, some of them have limited connectivity to local DVR systems, some may be newer and have web views. But the Verkada are much more secure, use newer technologies, and connect automatically to the web. They even connect to where they don’t have to have any other technical infrastructure on-site. So, they can plug these cameras in and access them through the website, and it’s a newer generation of camera technology with a lot less direct technical work.”
  • “Any time we get out in the field, with a different group of people connected to the nSide platform, it fills in a little more of what we, here in the office, don’t know. We interact with individual users and, a lot of times, we don’t get to see the big picture. It’s very helpful for us to get out and just hear from a completely different group of potential users. We get the opportunity to understand what their problems are, what they deal with in managing their own systems, and how we could address some of their needs.”

SSA

School Superintendents of Alabama hosted a summer conference for Meaningful Collaboration and Networking June 16–19 in Point Clear, AL. They are a professional association, geared towards school system executives and their leadership teams. nSide Founder and CEO, Steve McKinney, sat down with us to offer his perspective.

  • “More than anything, I wanted time spent in person and the opportunity to cultivate relationships and hear a lot of their problems. We did talk a lot about security in the form of physical measures, like cameras and access control, because that’s on a lot of people’s minds. But we also talked about things like school buses and the issues that they face with logistics and transportation, which was a bit of a departure from traditional school safety conversations. So, it traversed across a wide array of topics. But that’s what I hoped it would do, because every district is different. Every relationship is different. And when you reach the point, with a superintendent or any client, when they’re able to view you as a confidant and a partner, then you’ve achieved something.”
  • “So, this is the first time that a superintendent (and several of them did it) brought their architects over to meet with us. And that was different. Some of what I learned in that engagement is that a lot of the new schools are moving towards a different type of power system. They’ve recognized that this Digital Age is rapidly moving, which means they’re in need of not only normal power structure in buildings but also low voltage power structures. All of that leads to having additional sensors, effectively put inside the operations of these facilities as they become more and more ubiquitous in the new power message.”
  • “For the most part, these are tried and true friends or people that I’ve worked with for years. So, it’s a very cordial kind of environment, even though it’s formal. When it’s that way, it’s less about your introductory message, and it’s more about their day to day problems. Anytime you’re building a relationship, it is about being a person that they can confide in, in such a way that no one is. To the extent where if you don’t have a solution then it’s between you and them, but if you know of any possible solution, you offer it, regardless of whether it’s beneficial to you or not. And that’s what we try to cultivate. It’s good to have a common mission with people that you genuinely do care about.”

We are always grateful for the opportunity to exchange ideas, and we strive to do so among others that share our affinity for refining school safety. nSide firmly believes that growth is spurred on through active participation of community members and school administrators and staff alike. So, we encourage you to look into any of the above organizations for future events, or join our community page for further discussion!

As is discernible throughout this collection, we feel that conferences are best met with problem-solution mentalities and client-first care. If you happen to see us at an upcoming event, we encourage you to continue getting to know us and the greater depths of our mission. We hope this post is valuable to your understanding of our team at nSide, and we look forward to the new school year ahead!

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