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Arkansas school district to use AI cameras to monitor students for weapons
Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arkansas school district to use AI cameras to monitor students for weapons

A school district in Arkansas will utilize over 1,500 cameras at schools and administration buildings to monitor students for possible threats in an effort to increase school safety.

The Fort Smith Public School district explained that after partnering with a company called ZeroEyes, it would use artificial intelligence-based weapon detection cameras starting in the 2024-2025 school year.

The district's Deputy Superintendent Martin Mahan said that the AI software will first be used on existing surveillance cameras that are outside school buildings and placed in strategic locations on campus, 40/29 reported. The video footage is instantly fed through the AI software, which detects objects wielded by individuals, such as guns. If a weapon is detected, the AI immediately alerts the system user.

"Our bigger footprint in districts, schools, and even some of our smaller schools will have some of the camera systems inside because the unique capacity of this camera system is it will continue to track the threat and it will give us locations exactly where to pinpoint the threat," Mahan said. "Unfortunately, in these types of events, seconds are lives. So anything we can add that gains us seconds for our students and staff is another level of threat mitigation."

The new weapon detection system will cost the school district approximately $156,000 per year for each of the next six years. The financing will come from existing operating budget funds, but the district hopes to be awarded grants to cover some of the costs.

Perhaps an area of concern, the superintendent noted that the system would not be monitored by school or district officials but rather by a third party.

"It's going to work with our existing cameras, and the the actual weapons detection systems will be monitored by a third party, so there's no staffing requirement for us," Mahan continued.

ZeroEyes said that the surveillance footage is analyzed in real time to identify a possible threat.

"That video will be sent in for analysis to a group of trained individuals with law enforcement background, military background; they will assess it and immediately determine if it is a real threat to our staffers and students and notify us immediately," Mahan explained.

The company's website described its system as one that delivers a "proactive, human-verified visual gun detection and situational awareness solution that integrates into existing digital security cameras to stop mass shootings and gun-related violence."

The company said it was developed by a team of Navy SEALs following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting.

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Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados is a writer focusing on sports, culture, entertainment, gaming, and U.S. politics. The podcaster and former radio-broadcaster also served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he confirms actually does exist.

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