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Schools turning to technology to keep students safe

The "anonymous alerts" app allows students to report suspicious activity from a cell phone (CBS Austin).

As students prepare to head back to school, local school districts are gearing up to keep them safe in the classroom.

This year, Round Rock ISD will expand access to the "Anonymous Alerts" app to include elementary schools. The app, available for iPhone and Android, allows students and staff to anonymously report incidents, ranging from bullying to a weapon on campus.

"I think if the kids want to report something anonymously or anything's going on then everyone will know right away," Round Rock resident Jeannine Hemenway said.

Round Rock ISD officials hope the convenience and anonymity will encourage students to report suspicious activity.

"We want students to feel comfortable sharing their concerns especially when it comes to safety and security," Round Rock ISD spokesperson Corey Ryan said.

Around 3,600 security cameras keep watch over Austin ISD campuses and facilities. The Austin Police Department has access to the cameras in its real-time crime center.

Both Austin Police and AISD Police say this collaboration is crucial for critical incidents, like an active shooter.

"They [Austin Police] need to see what we can see as we all respond so that they are able to prepare in coordination with us to address those issues," AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez said.

"So we don't waste any time in pinpointing what the threat is, where the threat is and what we need to do to end the threat," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

AISD Police control APD's access to the cameras to protect student privacy.

"Everyone's watching you all the time," Round Rock resident Melissa Schmalbach said.

"So there's kind of those two sides to it, so as long as it's not being abused I think it's a good thing for the system."

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