The newly installed Alertus Beacon at The Temple is part of an improved emergency alert and preparedness system in Nashville’s Jewish community.
When it comes to responding to natural disasters and security threats, planning is key. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it is important for faith communities to build a culture of preparedness that enhances security. The Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is taking that directive seriously by providing funding to synagogues, Jewish schools, and other institutions to improve emergency response and alert systems. The latest improvement is the Alertus system, which is a communication system that combines hardware (facility-based beacons) and a mobile application, both of which are cloud-based. The Temple is the first facility where the beacons have been installed. Eric Stillman, CEO of The Jewish Federation, says, “Jewish community security in Nashville and Middle Tennessee is a top priority for our Federation. Through dollars raised in our Annual Campaign, Federation security grants to our congregations and agencies have made possible the purchase and installation of this crucial communications and notification system. This only was possible because the Federation has taken the lead on community security to help keep our Jewish communal institutions and Jewish community members safe.”
The Beacon is an alert system that is affixed to the walls of the institution at various points and when activated, it uses a loud horn and voice notification telling people where to go and what to do. Kevin Painter, Senior Regional Account Manager with Alertus Technologies, says the goal is to improve communication throughout the entire community. “When there is an emergency, there needs to be a fast, efficient way to alert people to a risk. The Beacon provides a single point of activation without the need for a phone or other device.” For example, during Shabbat services, many people do not have access to their phones. Mark Shepard, Facilities Manager at The Temple says, “This beacon is going to be a great way to respond to everyone in the building if something happens.”
The Alertus Beacon is an addition to the app-based notification system already being used in Nashville’s Jewish Community. Adam Bronstone, Director of Planning and Israel Partnerships for The Federation, says integrated systems like the one provided by Alertus are efficient specifically because it connects the entire community. “We have a community that is very closely connected geographically. It’s easy for an intruder to go from one to the other and find the weak link. All the organizations need to be able to stay in touch with each other.” Stillman says the process for determining the best system was collaborative, “In addition to hardening facilities against threats, our Federation leads security coordination in Jewish Nashville and Middle Tennessee at the highest levels with local, state, and Federal law enforcement.”
The Beacon response system will be installed throughout the Jewish community, and in addition to Federation’s funding, the Department of Homeland Security is providing some funds to assist with installation. Mark Shepard says The Temple is pleased to participate in the community-wide effort. “We’re very excited. Anything we get in the form of improved security puts us that much ahead of what is going on in the world.” And The Temple’s President, Jimmy Marks, says, “The Temple is very appreciative of the support provided by The Federation to enhance security for Nashville’s Jewish institutions. Alertus is one of the many security initiatives supported by The Federation that will make our community safer.”