After tragedies like the recent shooting rampage on an Ohio high school campus, authorities often discover that there are warning signs preceding the event. But without a system for collecting, storing and disseminating such information to authorities, it's difficult, if not impossible, to intervene before such tragedies strike.
TIPS—Threat Assessment, Incident Management and Prevention Services—is an online platform created to serve as that centralized incident reporting tool and repository. The tool, which earned a 2012 Innovation Award from Business Insurance, is designed to equip risk managers, threat assessment teams, mental health professionals and others with the ability to securely share information and communicate so they can take appropriate pre-emptive action.
Rick Shaw, CEO and founder of Lincoln, Neb.-based Awareity Inc., came up with the idea for TIPS when the shootings at Columbine High School and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University occurred during his “lunch dates” with his daughter while she was attending grade school.
“It was intriguing to me,” he said, “that there were warning signs before incidents like Columbine and Virginia Tech” that weren't discovered until after the fact. But campus communities are not equipped “to connect the dots” and proactively intervene in such situations.
In particular, the students that perpetrated the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., had been subjected to bullying, but there was no central location for these incidents to be reported, stored and shared among teachers and school officials, Mr. Shaw said. “So we started looking into all of these different tragedies to try to determine where the gaps and disconnects were.”
TIPS is accessed via the Internet connection and can be added to a school, government or corporate website as a button icon. Individuals who click on the TIPS button are taken to a template where they can report information that could be useful in conducting threat assessments.
The TIPS platform includes an information sharing “dashboard” accessible by multiple threat assessment teams who can prioritize the information using color coding similar to that employed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with red being the highest priority.
“It also allows them to connect the dots. A teacher, student or counselor may have filed a complaint about a student. But those reports get siloed and aren't connected. With TIPS, you could do a search and find out how many reports were filed and whether there is an escalation of aggression that needs to be watched,” Mr. Shaw said.
“We've made training documents, checklists, policies and procedures—whatever team members need so they can make decisions quickly—easily accessible when they are needed,” Mr. Shaw said.