When it comes to school safety and security, it’s understandable that parents and their children can feel overwhelmed by the changes schools are making. Policies and procedures are constantly being updated, drills during the school day are becoming mandatory in more schools across the country, and seeing an armed police officer walking the hallways has become an everyday reality for many students.
Will these methods continue to be best practices for protecting our children in schools in the future? Or has the time come when schools start employing different measures for enhancing safety and security? Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality worldwide. AI is in use everywhere, from grammar correction to hosting entire radio shows instead of a disc jockey. This new world form of technology could soon be the future in protecting our children in schools. Let’s take a closer look at AI and how it could be used to boost school safety.
What Does Artificial Intelligence Have to Do With School Security?
AI replicates human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Basically, AI systems work by taking in large amounts of data, analyzing the data for correlations and patterns, and using these patterns to make predictions. You may have heard of simple AI models such as ChatGPT, a phone app that can answer questions and assist with tasks such as composing emails and writing essays.
You may be asking - what does AI have to do with school security? AI platforms can utilize existing CCTV infrastructure to detect anything unusual, such as unauthorized individuals or contraband. When layered with other security measures, AI can proactively identify a potential threat or other developing situation in a school before it becomes dangerous.
AI transforms data into real-time, actionable intelligence and can send alerts to individuals such as school administrators, law enforcement, or other first responders with detailed information. These transmissions can come through one or more methods, such as the web, mobile apps, email, and text messages, and then specific actions, such as lock-down procedures, can be designated by those receiving the information.
How Can Artificial Intelligence be Used to Increase School Security?
AI can potentially revolutionize the future of school security. With the increasing concern over school shootings and other threats, schools are challenged to implement new and innovative ways to protect students and staff. AI technology offers a variety of solutions that can help schools improve their safety and security measures and enhance their overall emergency preparedness. Let’s take a look at some ways that AI could be used to enhance school security in the future.
- Facial Recognition Technology- Facial recognition systems use algorithms to scan and identify individual faces. This technology can be integrated with security cameras at the main entrance to a school and could alert administration and security personnel to individuals who are not permitted to be on campus, such as registered sex offenders.
- Weapon Recognition- Some forms of AI technology search for and detect objects instead of faces. This technology can be programmed to detect weapons and immediately alert officials if an object, such as a handgun, is seen. A downside to weapon detection with AI technology is that AI can only recognize a weapon if it’s visible on camera. For instance, the technology would not recognize a weapon that is carried in a backpack or pocketbook.
- Social Media and Online Tracking- AI technology can aid school officials and security personnel by tracking potential threats, such as cyberbullying, online threats towards others, and threats of self-harm or suicide, by monitoring social media activity. For example, schools can use AI-powered tools to scan students' social media accounts, which can alert officials to a dangerous situation, providing an opportunity to intervene before the threat is carried out.
- Campus surveilling robots- According to the Wall Street Journal, a Santa Fe, New Mexico school district is participating in a campus robot surveillance pilot program. The robot patrols the school campus 24/7 and provides 360-degree camera footage to the school security team. This type of surveillance would be beneficial in the case of an active shooter or other security threat. The robot can alert the security team and move toward the assailant while transmitting video footage that informs the officers’ next course of action. The more progressive college campuses are already utilizing robots to deliver food to students on campus - why not take it to the next level?
Investing in our Children’s Safety
Embracing innovation and technology is vital to maximizing school security. It is incumbent upon school administrators, educators, and parents to understand and provide the highest level of security measures available to protect our schools.Taking time to understand how AI can be used in your school is one piece of that puzzle.
Funding for upgrading existing school security measures and implementing new ones is critical, but there never seems to be enough money for all the latest and greatest security enhancements. Grants are a common source of funding for increasing school security measures.
Schools can achieve a good return on their investment in AI technology by investing in a multi-purpose system instead of a single-use system. For example, an AI system integrated into the CCTV system could protect against both catastrophic (active shooter) and common disturbances (trespassing, slip and falls, hallway fights, and more).
Although funding can be a challenge, it’s imperative that school administrators and parents explore innovative ways to keep our children safe in schools. AI could play a significant role moving forward.