Digitizing School Building Blueprints to Create a Safer School Environment

Digitizing school building blueprints gives law enforcement officers immediate and ready access to updated or latest floor plans via cloud-based software. These digital copies of school building plans will be of immense importance for first responders in understanding the school environment and reacting quickly in an emergency.

Experts have voiced significant concerns over the incidents of gun violence reaching an alarming point, triggering an urgent nationwide debate on how we can secure school environments and protect students and teachers.

As government and law enforcement agencies debate ways to counter this threat, the Collaborative Response Graphics project is putting together a database of digital images of school building plans. The images will convey everything a first responder needs to know (such as room labels, hallway names, external door or stairwell numbers, and key utility locations). Such information is critical to enhancing the response time of emergency services and improving law enforcement agencies' control during an incident.

The Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS), in conjunction with FEMA, maintains a K-12 school shootings database. According to their data, since 1970, there have been 1,924 incidents of shooting on school properties. 2021 had the greatest number of incidents (249), followed by 2019 with 119 incidents.

Given these incidents, New Jersey's governor, Phil Murphy, announced on August 30, 2022, that New Jersey would use $6.5 million from the American Rescue Plan funds to create a database of digitized school building blueprints for first responders to be used in emergencies like school shootings. Out of the state's 3,000 public and private schools, about 50% are already in a statewide digital database. This new initiative will add the remaining schools to the database.

What does this digitization of blueprints require? What will educational institutions need to do to contribute to the project and make our school environments safer? Read on.

 

Digitize School Building Blueprints

 

What are building blueprints?

A blueprint is a two-dimensional drawing that provides a detailed visual representation of how a building is constructed or will look after construction.

Blueprints specify a building's dimensions, construction materials, and the exact placement of all its components. Construction drawings of old buildings are typically in paper format. Stored in archives, these large format documents contain crucial information about the ducting, entrances and exits and other information that can provide law enforcement and first responders with crucial guidance in emergency and rescue situations.

Why do we need digital copies of school building blueprints?

If an emergency arises, law enforcement officers and first responders need to quickly access the floor plans and campus layouts to plan their approach and find the best way to enter premises, rescue people and reduce the potential damage from the emergency.

If these plans are available in digital formats, they can be accessed from anywhere via a cloud-based content management system and shared with officers on the field on internet-enabled mobile devices. However, if these blueprints are only available in paper format, it is virtually impossible to fetch them from the storage area or archives and get copies physically out to first responders in time for them to study and plan their rescue in time.

How do I scan or digitize school building blueprints?

Large format documents like building blueprints, architectural drawings, engineering drawings, and construction layouts contain vital information that must be stored safely over long periods—virtually throughout the life of the asset or building. Legacy blueprints may be in fragile condition for old buildings, and scanning these large-sized documents while retaining all the details and clarity without damaging them further is a task that requires skill and advanced equipment. Ensuring post-scanning clarity, using image enhancement to get the best digital copies and storing and sharing these digitized files needs specialized equipment, professional skill and careful handling.

That's why large format document scanning or digitizing vital and sensitive asset information, blueprints or layouts is a project that is best handled by an experienced document scanning company like DRS Imaging.

Our production-grade large format scanners and professional scanning teams help you save time and effort on in-house scanning activities. 

We follow a secure chain of custody from the moment we pick up your blueprints and store them at our nearest SOC2-certified secure facility. They are then prepped and scanned. Our stringent quality control ensures that only clean and sharp images are approved. We then save the digital files in the file format specified by you and upload them into a document management system or content server. Once we have checked the digital copies, the originals can be securely shredded or returned carefully to your premises (depending on your retention policies) without damaging or degrading the already fragile documents.

We provided blueprint digitization services to government and private institutions, including educational institutions. For example, we have worked with the New York City School Construction Authority, which designs and constructs public school buildings in New York City, adhering to the highest standards of excellence in safety, quality and integrity.

How can schools utilize ARPA funds to digitize school building blueprints?

Despite the fears of more mass shootings or other emergencies on school campuses, only half of New Jersey's schools have digitized their building blueprints in readiness for emergencies.

The new initiative announced by Gov Phil Murphy will enable schools to use ARPA funds to complete the digitization of school building blueprints. The project will help the state's Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the New Jersey State Police devise digital graphics and maps for an additional 1,500 schools that don't yet have digital blueprints.

Schools can now access ARPA funding to complete their blueprint scanning projects. However, do schools have the tools and resources—and knowledge of how to scan blueprints? The answer is—no! Scanning large format blueprints is not a project that can be handled in-house using a regular scanner. Public and private schools must look for a reliable scanning services company to handle these legacy documents, manage the digitized files appropriately, and store them securely.

DRS Imaging undertakes blueprint scanning projects for document-intensive businesses across sectors, including K-12 schools. 

Mercury, our industry-leading ECM, offers intelligent and adaptive auto-classification. Our cloud-based data storage solutions also allow you to access digitized copies from mobile devices, making it easy for first responders, law enforcement teams and offsite personnel to search for blueprints within seconds.

Mercury also offers stringent access control features to restrict access only to authorized personnel. Administrators can set various access levels for different users to view, edit, or share files. The best part is that digital files won't get lost or misplaced!

Connect with our scanning experts to understand how to scan large blueprints and how you can use ARPA funding for the scanning project.

Who's to gain from investing in digital blueprint mapping software for K-12 schools?

"An important part of school safety is ensuring first responders have the tools they need to answer any emergency at any time. When every second matters, the most important tool is to know without delay not just where an emergency is in the building but the safest way to get there." - Gov. Phil Murphy

It's time that schools, government, and law enforcement agencies collaborate to make our communities, including our schools, safer, reassure anxious parents and secure young students from random or planned attacks.

The Collaborative Response Graphics software will help first responders have quick, anytime, anywhere access to scanned copies of legacy blueprints of schools.

DRS Imaging will guide schools through the process of securely scanning blueprints right up to submitting the digitized files to the Collective Graphics Response Project.

Digitized blueprints will help first responders in emergencies and enable law enforcement officials to study campus layouts, plan rescues and proactively improve school campus security rules and routes.

 

DRS Imaging is your reliable and secure partner for digitizing school building blueprints to make your school a safer place.

Connect with an expert at DRS to manage your school building blueprints scanning project from start to finish.