WHITE CASTLE, La. – School districts nationwide are looking for new ways to protect their staff and students. In Louisiana’s Iberville Parish, the district partnered with a software company to stop potential shootings before anyone gets hurt.
Superintendent of Iberville Parish School District Louis Voiron said the district has committed to installing ZeroEyes gun detection artificial intelligence software into the schools’ existing cameras.
“There’s no way with us having 800 cameras in our school district that one or two people can see what’s happening on every single camera in the district,” Voiron said.
Voiron said there have been instances of violence in the area and the district’s top priority is keeping its students and staff safe. He said the district is on schedule to have the system up and running in January.
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“Unfortunately in our area, we have had a couple shootings that have occurred on school campuses and near school campuses. And we took the approach to being more proactive,” Voiron said.
Co-Founder of ZeroEyes Sam Alaimo said if the software spots a possible gun, it alerts the company’s analytical team. The ZeroEyes staff is made up of former military and law enforcement personnel.
“The algorithm says, hey I think it’s a gun. It sends a still-frame image to our operating center. Our analyst looks at it and says if it is a gun, I am going to dispatch it,” Alaimo said.
The analyst can then immediately alert school staff and police, telling them what sort of gun was detected and its location. ZeroEyes staff are also trained to handle false alarms.
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“If we can tell very obviously it’s not a genuine threat, we do not dispatch the client. We’ll just give them a friendly phone call or an email saying, hey you want to be aware of a child with a Nerf gun that looks very much like the real thing is over here, you might want to take care of that,” Alaimo said.
Alaimo said the software, which does not store biometric data, is in more than 100 schools across 35 states.
In New Jersey, the Ocean City School District Interim Superintendent Scott McCartney said the software is active in the district.
McCartney said the software has never been used for an emergency, but has detected a water gun from a child. He said the system helps enhance existing security.
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“One thing that seems to work consistently is getting students and faculty locked away and out of sight. So if we can do that 30 seconds, 40 seconds, a minute faster, that has great potential to keep people out of harm’s way,” McCartney said.
McCartney said software is becoming a larger conversation among other school districts in New Jersey.