Loudoun Tech Entrepreneur Launches Group to Promote Campus Safety

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

3 thoughts on “Loudoun Tech Entrepreneur Launches Group to Promote Campus Safety

  • 2021-07-21 at 3:47 pm

    Our School Board is more dangerous to our children than firearms.

  • 2021-07-22 at 7:40 am

    Given the size of most of our schools EVERY effort to insure the safety of all attendees of our schools is welcomed. I wonder though if some REALLY easy policy changes could also improve safety and awareness of unsafe conditions. Here are just a few thoughts for public discourse:

    1 Why doesn’t the Sheriff Department provide a minimum response time target for every school in Loudoun should there be an emergency? A school in Western Loudoun has just as much right to be protected as one in Sterling so perhaps all deputies who are driving the county should be “managed” to drive by or at least near schools so this response time (whatever it is now) could be improved upon.

    2 While I was on the school board I proposed and with board approval we had panic buttons installed in all schools. The effect of these hard wired auto dialers could be vastly improved if augmented by connection to all staff cell phones so the 911 call could automatically go out by just hitting a button on a staff member phone from anywhere on the site.

    3 One safety risk to students is the persistent yet under-reported bullying that occurs in all LCPS schools. Perhaps the school board could ask the Superintendent to publicly report ALL reported incidents of bullying and hold staff responsible for repeat bullying by the same bully once a report is filed. After all – how unsafe is a school for children if none of the adults are actually responsible to prevent a bully from a repeat performance once the negative behavior has been exhibited?

    • 2021-07-22 at 10:06 am

      “hold staff responsible” Bob, you know that ain’t ever going to happen.

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