How One Recent NC Idea Grant Recipient Is Building The Modern School Security Alarm System

Security alarms are key for school safety. But one North Carolina entrepreneur has created a more accurate and robust system to help keep students, teachers, and staff safe on campus. 

Active Defender is a campus emergency tool and app that provides location-specific alerts for fires, natural disasters, lockdowns, or medical emergencies. The goal, CEO Jim Boyte told Hypepotamus, is to decrease the confusion that comes from a lack of information during an emergency situation.

Using a geo-referenced campus map, teachers and administrators can instantly report the nature and location of a problem so that students do not accidentally exit towards a problem area during an emergency. The app allows for teachers to send out alerts that specify classroom location and provides more accurate reporting options for SROs (school resource officers). 

The map-based approach also goes beyond the verbal descriptions provided to a 911 dispatcher during a call. The alarm system not only notifies first responders of an issue but “while people are waiting for first responders, can we make sure they know what the problem is and where it is relative to them,” Boyte told Hypepotamus. 



Boyte, a serial entrepreneur, engineer,  and bi-vocational pastor in Carthage, North Carolina, started programming games for students that ultimately made it to the top 100 in Apple games. That, he said, got the attention of the US military and jumpstarted his work at Fort Bragg. 

In his downtime, Boyte started working with schools on physical security concerns. “I watched and started analyzing all of their drills, and I realized there was a problem…once a drill goes off, 94% of people know there is a problem, but they don’t know where it is relative to them.” 

The HIPAA and FERPA compliant security platform is also one of the first non-governmental companies to receive critical entitlements from Apple, putting it in the same category as an Amber Alert or a Presidential Alert. 

It also tracks and logs facility management issues and incident reports, such as out-of-date fire extinguishers or broken glass found on campus. 

New features allow students to report incidents as well as provide personal safety alerts to a designated group of family or close friends. 

To date, Active Defender has been deployed in school systems in North Carolina and just received one NC Idea Seed Grant.

Boyte has a small but mighty team of engineers and advisors helping to bring the emergency tool to more school systems. He credits Jim Roberts in Wilmington, North Carolina, and CED’s incubator program for helping connect with the wider North Carolina entrepreneurial ecosystem.

He says the grant is a “shot in the arm to help with our go-to-market plan.” 

Other NC Idea Seed Grant recipients this year include BatteryXchange, Couplet Care, Darë Vegan Cheese, PROTECT3D, Smart Girls HQ, Stemz, and Your Minute Mechanic.