As the start of a new school year approaches, some schools in the United States are turning to biometrics in an attempt to prevent mass shootings.
While biometric technology — like facial recognition — isn't new, its use at schools has not been commonplace. This summer, schools in one West Virginia county tested a pilot program that used facial recognition for visitor management and threat detection, local outlet WDTV reports.
“That would be less intrusive than perhaps metal detectors. It would give us that security that we need at the entrance of our facilities, as well as the parking lots of our facilities,” said Dr. Donna Hage, the superintendent of Marion County Public Schools. “So we could utilize the camera systems that are in our schools. It becomes another layer of protection that we have on our campuses and in our schools,” Hage added.
Location of 2021 school shooting rolls out biometric scanners, AI gun detection software
In Michigan, Oxford High School — the site of a tragic shooting in 2021 that left four students dead — will greet returning students with biometric scanners located at three different entrances, WXYZ detailed. The school will also include NightLock safety shades on classroom doors and windows. Armed private security is also part of the district's three-year recovery plan, WXYZ reports.
In addition to the biometrics deployed at the school's entrances, The Detroit News details how the school has been testing ZeroEyes, an artificial intelligence-based gun detection software program on 30 cameras, expanding to 80–100 by September. Detroit News reports that this system works alongside the school's already existing surveillance cameras, both inside and out. The system is monitored by former military personnel and claims it can alert authorities to a gun carried in plain sight within seconds.
The district also plans to use a weapons-detection dog at the school.
Motion sensors with facial recognition comes to San Antonio after Uvalde massacre
In San Antonio, Texas, the city's Independent School District is rolling out a new set of security measures following a horrific mass shooting in nearby Uvalde. Motion sensors on cameras equipped with facial recognition will be part of the district's “Symphony” system, which KSAT reports is part of the dispatch and command centre, which features a 24-hour, 365-day team that monitors security.
Facial recognition technology on school premises has been a contentious subject since at least 2018. The topic has been argued in courtrooms in New York and recently resurfaced surrounding mask compliance in U.S. schools.
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