More schools turn to AI-based security to keep students safe this year

This year alone, there have been 208 incidents involving gunfire on school grounds, following a record high of 305 in 2022, according to the latest data from the K-12 School Shooting Database. These events have resulted in the deaths of at least 47 people and 117 wounded, a tally that has driven many administrators to add another layer of security in their schools: artificial intelligence.

An inevitable transition

Last week, Adrian Public Schools announced a new partnership with ZeroEyes, a software company that offers AI-based gun detection video analytics, MLive reports. According to their superintendent Nate Parker, the current school safety environment prompted the decision.

“We sadly live in a time when we can no longer ignore the looming shooting threats that continue to plague the US school system,” Parker said in a statement. “After a comprehensive review of available security solutions, we determined that allocating resources toward ZeroEyes’ solution was in the best interest of our students and community.”

The new “intelligent situational awareness” software will be added to the district’s existing digital security cameras, according to officials. When a gun is detected, the images are then shared with the ZeroEyes Operations Center, according to MLive. If the experts determine the threat is valid, alerts and actionable intelligence, including a visual description, weapon type and the student’s last known location, are sent to school staff and local police.

Government intervention

The Utah State Board of Education recently set aside $3 million for grants that would allow schools across the state to install ZeroEyes, the same AI-based detection software being used at Adrian Public Schools.

According to The Salt Lake Tribunea spokesperson for AEGIX, a Salt Lake City-based security software company that serves as the statewide reseller for ZeroEyes, the $3 million is enough funding to supply every school in the state with the software.

“Peace of mind”

As D.C. students return to the classroom this year. one principal tells NBC 4 Washington that their safety is a top priority.

“As a principal, the first thing you think of every day is keeping the students safe,” Bull Run Middle School Principal Matthew Phythian told NBC 4 Washington. “And the parents, when they send the students to school, they trust that you and the staff will keep everyone safe every day.”

Each morning, he greets the students at the door. But this year, there will be another layer of added security, which gives him “peace of mind.”

The district, Prince William County Public Schools,  is installing a weapons detection system called Evolv, which uses sensors and AI to detect and alert staff of potentially dangerous weapons. The technology is costing the district $10.7 million over the next four years.

“It’s looking at objects that may be threatening but ignoring other everyday metallic items,” Jill Lemond, director of education for Evolv told NBC 4 Washington. “And so what it’s not pickup up is my keys, for example, or my cellphone.”