AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – After a shaky start to the school year, there are now renewed calls for safety measures at our local school districts.
Josey High School is another data point for the increasing violence in schools across the country and in the CSRA.
So, what are the options for our school districts to implement to cut down on violence?
More and more school districts across the country are moving to metal detectors and artificial intelligence weapons detection systems. Evolv Technology is one of the largest security companies in the nation installing A.I. technology in schools.
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“It’s an A.I.-based weapons detection system. What that means is that it’s always learning. And it’s not only looking for the metallic value of objects, it is also looking for their shape and their density,” said Jill Lemond, Evolve Technology’s director of education.
It’s like a surveillance system and metal detector in one as students and staff walk into the school.
“The system is looking at not faces or people, but shapes and things. And if something looks like a part or piece of a mass casualty weapon, the system puts a red bounding box around the area of the body or the belonging of that entrant that needs to be checked. What this does- well is it actually allows for much faster screening processes,” said Lemond.
It sounds like the perfect solution for the school district, right? One tech research company says these A.I. weapons detection systems are not always catching everything.
“The smaller you get with the weapon, whether it’s a gun or a knife, it inherently gets harder to detect them,” said Nikita Ermalaev with IPVM.
IVPM is an independent technology research firm that works to test weapons detection systems used throughout the country. Their findings about the tech used by companies like Evolve Technology aren’t the permanent solution.
The systems have trouble catching compact handguns and smaller knives being brought into schools. Those are the ones IPVM says are being used in these acts of violence.
Kenneth Trump with the National School Safety and Security Services said: “When security works, it’s because of people. When security fails, it’s because of people. We need to focus on training our school staff, not just putting in shiny objects that we can’t point to and creating a false sense of security and having those systems fail.”
Their consulting firm based out of Cleveland, Ohio, works to give security training and information to schools across the country.
“We’re not going to be able to totally eliminate and there is no one solution that takes a comprehensive approach. It’s a wicked problem. It’s very complex and there is no single solution,” said Trump.
The National School Safety and Security Services tells us metal detectors aren’t the solution either. Those typically have to be manned 24/7 and have to be working properly to be effective. What they often see after events like Josey is a “knee-jerk” reaction from school districts to implement some kind of security system.
“Create more of a distraction and pull staff away from the building. The relationships with kids, supervising arrival, dismissal, cafeterias, hallways where there’s student movement are the things that really make schools safer,” said Trump.
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