Ross students taking school security app to D.C.

The Ross High School teenage inventors — whose school security app is drawing spotlight attention — are now headed to Washington, D.C., as one of 10 finalists in a national contest of ingenuity.

They have already won $50,000 worth of tech for their Butler County high school by finishing first in Ohio in the “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Pitch Event.”

But if they beat out six other teams — and win one of the three national awards — in the nation’s capital on April 25 they could win a total of $150,000 in tech for their Ross Twp. school.

Originally the teens — and instructor Thomas O’Neill of the Butler Tech Ross High School IT Program – were to compete in New York City earlier this month as one of 10 finalists in the annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Pitch Event but a snow storm caused postponement.

Now they will fly to the capital and in part to the delay, the media attention around their national run is increasing, O’Neill said Thursday.

“It’s been exceptional for the kids because they were all hyped and ready to go in New York City. But now for this to reach this level of attention they are even more motivated and thrilled,” he said.

The students designed a school safety system to provide early warning for a range of emergencies to first responders and school administrators — including gunshot location detection.

“We’re hoping the product will be picked up and we can form a company,” Ross senior and team member Jacob Halm previously told the Journal-News.

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But the main motivation is to keep schools safer from violent threats.

Halm is joined by Kody Bryant, Tyler West and Grant Ridge as creators of the phone app they dubbed the “Violence Protection System” or “VPS.”

The computer app will alert authorized users to a number of threats to student safety.

It interfaces with gunfire detection software to pinpoint the location of an incident on a school map and send alerts to first responders and school officials. It can also interface with metal detectors to provide alerts when sensors are activated.

The security phone app is a faster, more modern safety option than current security alert systems used by many schools when it comes to violent threats or dangerous weather situations, O’Neill said.

The 16-year veteran teacher at Ross High School said the app could become a business for the teens.

He described it as a “viable commercial product (and) when it is complete and ready to market could easily be a multi-million dollar product.”

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