School district considers virtual reality to prepare for potential shooter

The cost to make the technology would cost more than $800,000.
A Middle Tennessee school district put in a grant request to get virtual reality to help with the safety of schools.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WSMV) - Patty Oeser is in the “what if” business.

As the safety director for Rutherford County schools, she sees videos of school shootings across the country and wants to make sure her district is prepared for the worst possible scenario.

A review of state grant requests for school security showed Oeser asked for what you might expect, including installing new security doors.

But there’s also a request that stands out from the rest: virtual reality.

The grant request for 3-D mapping of Rutherford County schools would be shared with emergency responders.

It would allow the district to provide 3-D images of the schools, allowing, for example, different angles of windows that police could use to try and locate a shooter inside.

The technology also reveals all angles of doors and how police could move through a school, giving emergency responders the option to “zoom in” to see where a teacher could be standing.

Brooks Beauchamp is the project manager of a company that provides the virtual reality.

“(The virtual reality shows) which way the doors open, where the security cameras are located, where the windows are,” Beauchamp said.

According to the grant request from Rutherford County, a responding SWAT or evacuation team could see, in virtual reality, the full interior of a school and plan tactically.

The technology also isn’t cheap: more than $800,000, and it’s still in the consideration phase, given the rapid grown of the student population.

“Classrooms change every year, teachers change every year, and unfortunately we have portables,” Oeser said.