Safeguarding The Digital World

Digital safety technology for education, public services and business

In a world where everything is digital, there are increased opportunities. But there is also increased exposure to threats. For anyone in a position of responsibility, the need to protect individuals from online harm is paramount. This is particularly evident in education, where appropriate mechanisms must be in place to filter harmful online content from young people.

Founded in 2000, Smoothwall is a Leeds-based digital safety technology company, offering filtering and monitoring capabilities to organisations across the public sector, healthcare, education and private enterprise. From its beginnings offering firewall technology, Smoothwall now provides a range of solutions to four million users around the world.

Protecting students from harm

Schools and colleges have an obligation – both moral and regulatory – to protect children from harmful or inappropriate material online, with the Department for Education requiring that ‘appropriate filters and appropriate monitoring systems are in place.’

However, there is a balance to be maintained. With so many educational resources now online, schools need a solution that is more flexible than traditional blacklisting techniques. What’s more, managed systems are better for children’s development, as they give them a better understanding of how to stay safe online. According to Ofsted pupils should be given opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risk for themselves.

Safeguarding concerns

Smoothwall’s filter and monitoring technology enables schools and colleges to meet government regulations and fulfil their safeguarding duties towards students. It allows for the blocking of harmful content on certain sites (for example, Youtube) whilst allowing educational content through.

Importantly, it helps safeguarding leads to see and understand issues students are struggling with as they arise. Monitoring technology gives teachers the full picture of what students are doing on computers and devices, with email and phone call alerts sent in the event of a safeguarding issue or risk. This applies both to online and offline activity – with the monitor detecting text in a word document or email that is never sent.

This kind of technology helps safeguarding professionals to build up profiles of at risk students over time, enabling them to identify issues as they arise and intervene at an earlier stage. Schools who use such filtering and monitoring technology report increases in the number of students who receive pastoral care or teaching support, and are often able to improve their Ofsted ratings.

Smoothwall’s technology is also beneficial to private businesses and other public sector institutions, in place at 28 NHS Trusts, as well as local government, and police – where it captures and logs suspicious activity on offenders’ devices. This helps police forces support offender rehabilitation, by detecting risks of reoffence and breaches of court orders.

Could your business feature here? If you’re a digital or technology business in the North of England, we want to hear from you.