Loudoun-based technology leaders have collaborated to launch ZeroNow, an organization that aims to make campuses and learning environments as safe as possible through driving technology innovation, increasing awareness, and informing public policy on campus security.
Ara Bagdasarian, the father of two Loudoun County Public Schools graduates and the Leesburg-based CEO of Omnilert, LLC, formed the collaboration last year. It aims to drive the dialogue surrounding campus-safety efforts using videos and webinars that feature expert opinions on topics such as gun violence. ZeroNow, which has two Loudoun-based founding member groups, Telos and Omnilert, will also support promote technologies that identify and mitigate threats to public safety. For example, ZeroNow will research and present technologies to LCPS that can best help school resource officers on the job.
Bagdasarian is already a pioneer in campus safety technology. He founded e2Campus, now called Omnilert, the first-ever campus emergency notification system in 2004, which delivers text alerts to campus communities whenever there is a threat to public safety. Bagdasarian sees a void in public discourse addressing student safety.
“What happens is that safety is never a priority until something happens, a mass-shooting happens at a campus. We need to make sure that funding is happening all the time, and that policy makers are aware of the latest advancements in technology programs for campus and school safety,” Bagdasarian said.
One of those technology programs is a brainchild of Bagdasarian. He and Telos CEO John Wood created a program that detects and alerts officials of the presence of guns.
The ZeroNow collaboration is a decade in the making. Bagdasarian hatched the plan with Joseph Samaha, the father of Reema Samaha, a student who was killed in the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 that left 33 people dead. Samaha and other grieving parents of victims, rather than taking the money from the state, decided to form VTV Family Outreach Foundation, which is one of six founding partner groups of ZeroNow.
Students will be a primary force in driving the conversation for ZeroNow. A monthly video series, “Desensitized,” will feature student journalists interviewing technology and safety experts. The first video of the series premieres today, coinciding with the launch of the ZeroNow website.
“We need to prevent desensitization. We do become desensitized, it’s part of the human condition. We will be ensuring that everything possible is done to keep students out of harm’s way,” Bagdasarian said.
ZeroNow’s website can be found here