Enhancing School Safety with Artificial Intelligence

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When parents drop their children off at school, their primary concern should be their safety and well-being. Unfortunately, the rising incidents of gun violence in and around schools have become an alarming issue. To address this, several school districts have implemented various safety measures such as metal detectors, weapons detection systems, clear backpack requirements, and the presence of School Resource Officers (SROs). However, is this enough to ensure the utmost safety for our children?

In an effort to enhance security, some school divisions across the country have incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) as an additional layer of protection. Companies like Actuate, Omnilert, and ZeroEyes have partnered with these districts to implement AI technology for detecting guns. ZeroEyes, for instance, utilizes computer vision AI to identify the presence of firearms.

By analyzing camera feeds, the AI can quickly detect firearms and send out immediate alerts. The primary aim is to adopt a proactive approach that empowers first responders with valuable information before any shots are fired.

ZeroEyes’ AI technology operates in real-time, continuously analyzing frames from the camera feed to identify potential weapons. Notably, it can alert authorities within a remarkable three to five seconds. Mount Holly, New Jersey, has been using ZeroEyes for five years, and their Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Chris Heilig, reports significant improvements. In one drill, law enforcement responded to an active shooter within 60 seconds compared to three minutes without the technology. ZeroEyes asserts that this technology is particularly effective since most school shootings involve individuals who openly display their weapons before taking action.

It is important to note that the AI computer vision technology employed does not detect holstered or concealed weapons. ZeroEyes argues that according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, approximately 70 percent of shootings involve visible guns, with the shooter often outside the school building for some time before initiating an attack.

To ensure accurate detections, human monitors continually evaluate and verify each identified threat before alerting the proper authorities. Moreover, the AI technology solely focuses on objects and never records any personally identifiable information, guaranteeing privacy protection.

Former Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera believes that the implementation of such technology could be beneficial for local, county, and state-level policing, as long as it adheres to constitutional rights, specifically the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches conducted without probable cause.

It is essential to emphasize that this AI technology does not operate independently, but rather works under the human oversight of trained monitors. This dual mechanism ensures proper validation of any weapon sightings and prevents any unwarranted intrusion on an individual’s rights.

Concerns regarding the financial aspect of implementing this technology arise for many school districts. However, Mount Holly’s school division identified the importance of this security tool, allocating sufficient funds from their budget. Dr. Heilig acknowledges that although it may be challenging for schools across the country with varying priorities, it is vital to find ways to prioritize student safety. By assessing their school budget diligently, they were able to incorporate this additional security measure.

The cost of implementing this technology is primarily determined by the number of cameras utilized. Depending on the school’s requirements, pricing can range from $20 to $50 per month per camera stream, including installation and monitoring services. ZeroEyes understands the financial constraints faced by schools and seeks to make its technology cost-effective and accessible. They devote themselves to this cause, striving to make the world a safer place.

Currently, none of the school divisions in Hampton Roads are employing the ZeroEyes AI gun detection software. However, there have been discussions with at least one local school showing interest in utilizing this technology.

Nevertheless, it is important to stress that none of the AI companies consider their technology as the sole solution for ensuring the safety of students. Rather, these technologies are seen as complementary measures to be employed alongside existing security protocols.

The rise in incidents of gun violence in and around schools demands innovative solutions and proactive approaches. Incorporating artificial intelligence technology, like the gun detection system offered by ZeroEyes, provides an additional layer of security by rapidly identifying potential threats. As we strive to keep our schools safe, it is crucial to balance these advancements with respect for constitutional rights and privacy concerns.

School districts should carefully consider the financial implications, exploring options to allocate funds and prioritize the well-being of their students. By implementing an integrated security framework, combining AI technology with other safety measures, we can collectively work towards creating a safer environment for our children.

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