Technology and School Security

Technology and School Security

Technology can mitigate risks without sacrificing student and staff privacy

With 18 reported school shootings since January 2018, there has understandably been a focus on keeping students and staff safe.

While school shootings deserve the thought and attention they are getting, school districts also struggle with risks from violence, unwanted individuals such as sex offenders or suspended/expelled students or fired employees. Unfortunately, there are also financial risks from workers compensation fraud and theft by staff.

Can technology mitigate these risks without sacrificing student and staff privacy?

The Lockport City School District in Lockport, NY thinks it can. And so does the nearby Depew Union Free School District.

The Districts have invested in AEGIS a security system from Canadian company SN Technologies that utilizes three main elements and processes matches at speeds up to 50 million images per second:

Sentry. A facial recognition/matching system with proven accuracy rates of 99 percent that is effective with all races. The system is designed to have a human to verify a match before any action is taken.

Protector. A gun recognition system that will identify a gun-in-hand and that once verified alerts are sent directly to all police for action and response.

Mercury. A forensic search engine that allows historical video to be quickly searched unattended for specific faces saving time and thousands of dollars in investigative work and legal fees, providing information quicker and determining outcomes more quickly.

“The AEGIS program will not retain any of the security camera data unless an alert is triggered, and only then data relevant to the alert would be retained for a very limited period of time,” Lockport’s Superintendent Michelle Bradley said. “AEGIS is simply a tool to better use security camera data to try to prevent threats.

“A school is now a target, unfortunately. Based on recommendations, things we saw, drills we did, pilots we did, we assessed all of that and we thought this was the best option, economically and responsibly, for the safety of our community. We pray that we never have to deal with a school shooting but if this technology saves one life, it will have been worth it”

Depew Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey said he doesn’t have any concern about the system.

“It’s not like we’re following kids around campus all day long,” Rabey said. “Schools have had cameras and recording capability for decades … all [AEGIS] does is enhance our current system. It allows us to identify people who should not be on campus.”

By law, there are no cameras in bathrooms, change rooms or instructional spaces. In terms of any further privacy concerns, individuals that are entered into the AEGIS system are only those individuals that the school districts identify as not allowed. The system resides within the firewall of the school district and the district has full control over who is entered into the system. Students will not be identified by the system unless they are disqualified from being on property or pose a specific, verified threat

The technology was developed with the guidance of Tony Olivo, a former U.S. Marshal Criminal Investigator. Olivo’s firm Corporate Screening & Investigations was so concerned about School Safety that his firm specializes in risk assessments for school districts and he discovered this technology in 2012. His input impacted the final product and system.

“There is no panacea for school shooting,” Olivo said. “This technology is a supplement to an overall School Safety Plan. Staff and students still need to note and report anomalies and unique behaviors. Access doors that are locked during school hours are important elements of the plan as are lockdown drills.”

The AEGIS system will be deployed in September 2018 at Lockport and shortly, thereafter in Depew.

Not surprisingly, the system has created a lot of interest and more than 20 school districts in Western New York as well as schools districts in other states have expressed interest in acquiring the AEGIS system. “We’re acting to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep our students and staff safe as we always have,” Bradley said.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

Digital Edition

  • Campus Security & Life Safety Magazine - March April 2019

    March/April 2019

    Featuring:

    • Proactive Steps in Protecting Students Using Technology
    • Securing Our Hospitals and Protecting Your Privacy
    • Leveraging a Unified Mass Notification Solution
    • From Safe Campus to Smart Campus

    View This Issue