Florida District to Install Surveillance System with Facial Recognition

Florida District to Install Surveillance System with Facial Recognition

“These cameras’ artificial intelligence recognizes the movements and characteristics of people and vehicles, bringing actionable activity to the attention of those monitoring the cameras,” according to a federal grant application written by the district and Broward County government.

The Broward County School District plans to install a $621,000 surveillance system that includes facial-recognition technology, reports the Sun Sentinel. The system will be able to check faces against a database of expelled students, sex offenders, felons and other potential risky visitors.

“These cameras’ artificial intelligence recognizes the movements and characteristics of people and vehicles, bringing actionable activity to the attention of those monitoring the cameras,” according to a federal grant application written by the district and Broward County government.

The district plans to install the cameras in 36 schools, mostly high schools “with the highest security needs,” according to a description of the project. The schools aren’t specified, but it’s expected that the list includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, where a former student committed a shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, that left 17 people dead.

The district has been working to increase security and safety since the Stoneman Douglas shooting. The U.S. Department of Justice has approved a grant of $466,000 for the surveillance system, with the district covering the remaining $155,000. The grant will require the approval of the Broward County Commission.

“This will be essential in helping to improve our security measures, to track who belongs and quickly alerting who does not belong on campus,” said Broward School Board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed in the Parkland shooting.

The use of facial recognition, however, has raised some concerns among security researchers as well as members of the community.

“If the details of implementation are not well thought out on the front-end, school leaders risk finding themselves with little more than ‘security theater’ rather than useful tools that will be a meaningful part of a broader comprehensive school safety program,” school security consultant Kenneth Trump said.

Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed in the Parkland shooting, said he likes the idea of the facial recognition surveillance system, but questioned why the district is working on this before addressing more critical priorities, like emergency lockdown procedures and active shooter training. Right now, Schachter said, the district doesn’t have an agreement allowing law enforcement to review its footage.

“Most of the time cameras are just forensics unless you have a very advanced school security system and have the staff to be able to take advantage of the camera’s capabilities,” Schachter said.

 

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