Education

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa schools linked to One-Click SOS System

By Javed Khan

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A security guard stands outside a Peshawar private school in June. More than 22,000 schools in KP are connected to the One-Click SOS system to notify police rapidly of potential terrorist threats. [Javed Khan]

PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has linked more than 22,000 schools and about 1,800 other sensitive buildings to the One-Click SOS System, a smartphone-based app for reporting suspicious activities or terrorism threats.

KP authorities introduced the system first in Peshawar and later elsewhere in KP after the December 16, 2014, terrorist massacre of more than 140 children and teachers at the Army Public School in Peshawar.

"The KP Police introduced the system in January 2015," Superintendent of Police in Peshawar Muhammad Afzal told Pakistan Forward. "It links all schools."

Police initially installed the system in schools and universities and later expanded it to banks, offices of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), jewellery shops and currency dealers, he said.

Those who have the app simply click a button on their smartphones to notify authorities of an emergency, he said.

Security personnel and first responders instantly know the location of the alert and the quickest route to it.

In KP so far, 22,798 schools, colleges and universities have access to the system, Naveed Ahmad, director of IT at the KP Central Police Office, told KP Inspector General of Police Nasir Khan Durrani during a briefing at the end of May.

"In addition, 1,191 jewellery shops, 484 banks, 68 currency dealers and nine NADRA offices are now connected with the system," he said.

Authorities began linking NADRA offices to the system after a bombing last December killed 26 people at the Mardan District office of NADRA.

Police, schools stepping up security

Besides installing One-Click, educators have orders from KP authorities to install closed-circuit TV cameras, hire more guards, raise their boundary walls and take other precautions.

"I, along with our senior officers, visited the universities, colleges and schools to inspect the security arrangements and point out the weak areas during the past few months," Peshawar Capital City Police Officer Mubarak Zeb told Pakistan Forward.

Zeb and Senior Superintendent of Police Operations for KP Abbas Majeed Marwat in May in Peshawar held numerous meetings with heads of schools and of local representative bodies, such as union (township) councils and bazaar vendors' unions.

The police officers asked the educators and local leaders to play their own role in maintaining public safety and to stay abreast of enhanced security measures.

To ensure the functioning of the One-Click system, the army and police in March through May conducted drills to see how fast they would respond if someone clicked the SOS button.

Senior officers supervised the exercises, which took place in various parts of KP.

"The system provides a sense of relief to the owners and principals of schools and other institutions that there is a place from which you can get instant help in case of any need," Jahan Zeb, owner of a private school, told Pakistan Forward.

Banks, jewellery stores linked

A number of KP banks, government offices, private gold vendors and private currency exchanges are linked with One-Click, and shop owners are pleased with the system.

The beneficiaries include 76 banks in Mansehra and 55 in Peshawar.

Meanwhile, 349 jewellery shops in Mardan and hundreds of other jewellery shops throughout KP are tied into One-Click too.

"More jewellers, banks and currency dealers should be linked with the system," Peshawar jeweller Tahir Hussain told Pakistan Forward.

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