Reid Bauer was finishing lunch period last year at his middle school in the Atlanta area when an alarm began blaring through the halls, warning of an emergency. Reid, then in sixth grade, had never heard the school’s “code red” alert before.

It was part of a new $5 million crisis management service that the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Ga., had purchased. District officials had promoted the system, called AlertPoint, as “state-of-the art technology” that could help save students’ lives in the event of a school shooting.

That day, however, AlertPoint went haywire, sending false alarms to schools across one of the nation’s largest districts, causing lockdowns and frightening students.

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