AI gun detection may be future of New Orleans area school safety

AI gun detection may be future of New Orleans area school safety
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West Baton Rouge Parish schools Superintendent Chandler Smith had been on the job only a few weeks when his phone pinged one day with a notification: A screengrab of surveillance camera footage with a timestamp and a box around each suspected weapon. An accompanying text said it appeared to be law enforcement training. 

Minutes earlier police officers had entered Port Allen Middle School for a training exercise. 

A few weeks later another alert came when a student brought a water gun to summer camp at a school, with the text saying it was a suspected toy.

The school district uses ZeroEyes, an artificial intelligence software that monitors camera feeds to detect weapons and sends alerts to officials. Some New Orleans area schools may soon follow suit.

“This, in combination with school resource officers, a single point of entry and a perimeter safeguard, I can tell parents we are addressing the safety and security of our schools and your kids are in good hands,” Smith said.

Earlier this month the Louisiana Department of Education awarded $20 million to districts and charter organizations across the state, including several in the New Orleans area, for security upgrades.

Plans for the money, part of federal funds allocated after the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, vary by school, but many include shoring up entries or installing more cameras. At least one charter group plans to contract with ZeroEyes for AI gun detection software.

Around 40 districts and charter networks — including Jefferson Parish Public Schools and several New Orleans area charter organizations — each received $518,355.

The future of school safety?

Sam Alaimo, who co-founded ZeroEyes, said in the majority of mass shootings a gun is exposed between two and 30 minutes before shots are fired. Though many schools have camera systems, they’re typically used after the fact.

Installed onto existing cameras, this software uses AI screening to detect weapons. Detections trigger alerts to an in-house operating center where footage is reviewed and a notification is sent to a predetermined list of people which might include law enforcement, a superintendent or principal. 

A spokesperson for the company would not say how many contracts the company holds with schools in Louisiana.

New Orleans’ FirstLine Schools, which runs Samuel J. Green Charter School, Arthur Ashe Charter School, Langston Hughes Academy and Phillis Wheatley Community School, said it will use grant money for the software, in addition to other safety measures.

Variety of spending strategies

While testifying before the Louisiana Senate’s Education Committee about a bill to require schools to develop crisis plans and have bleeding control kits on hand, Elliot Gomes, a rising senior at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, recounted when an active shooter was falsely reported to the New Orleans Police Department last September

“It exposed our woeful unpreparedness for a real shooter,” Gomes told senators.

Donald Jackson, an assistant principal at Ben Franklin, said the school would use the grant to create a single point of entry with enhanced security and beef up the visitor management check-in system.

In a statement, the Jefferson Parish school district, said it would use the funding to modernize entry systems of its schools to include live video with recording capabilities. They may also implement key card access for emergency personnel to enter campuses and install fencing, walls and gates in school foyers.

The district said it would add surveillance cameras to specific areas of campuses with “increased physical altercations.”

The head of Athlos Academy, a charter school in Jefferson Parish, said the school may use the money to buy cameras or metal detectors for entrances.

Collegiate Academies, one of the nine charter groups receiving funds, is splitting its award evenly between Abramson Sci Academy and Livingston Collegiate Academy, said Davis Zaunbrecher, chief of strategy, including for new fences, controlled access doors and upgrades to visitor tracking systems and cameras.

“There are certain blind spots and angles that these funds will allow us to watch,” Zaunbrecher said.

Reporter Charles Lussier contributed to this story.

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About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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