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School districts increase surveillance measures with AI-powered gun detection tool
Leon Neal/AFP via Getty Images

School districts increase surveillance measures with AI-powered gun detection tool

More than 100 schools nationwide have partnered with a software company to roll out its artificial intelligence-powered firearm detection tool in hopes of preventing active shooter incidents before or as soon as they occur.

ZeroEyes, founded in 2018 by a team of military veterans, created "a proactive, human-verified visual gun detection and situational awareness solution that integrated into existing digital security cameras to stop mass shootings and gun-related violence," according to its website.

"Drawing from over 50 years of collective military experience, we provide military-grade intelligence monitoring to facilities like schools, commercial buildings, and defense sites," the site reads.

The technology uses AI to detect "brandished firearms within view of any camera," often within two to three seconds, according to ZeroEyes. Once a gun is detected by the system, an image from the video feed is sent for review to the company's "human monitoring centers" to prevent false positives. After being verified by a person, the system then notifies local authorities.

"Every detection goes through our human monitoring centers so we can verify threats before triggering real-time alerts and safety protocols," the company's website notes. "When, and once an image is verified to be in the same of a firearm, we notify appropriate security personnel and first responders in as fast as 3–5 seconds, potentially reducing response time and saving lives."

The alert informs school administrators that a firearm was detected and which camera identified the potential threat.

Co-founder of ZeroEyes Sam Alaimo told Fox News Digital, "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."

"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 added.

He noted that the software has been installed in over 100 schools across 35 states.

The company notes that its operations center is built with multiple redundancies to ensure its system is never interrupted by power outages or natural disasters.

ZeroEyes cannot detect concealed weapons or firearms in a holster.

AI technology used in security systems has raised concerns about privacy from critics.

According to the software company, its tool does not use facial recognition or store biometric identifiers."The only time a person's face would be recorded and retained would be in the instance of an active shooter/mass shooting incident," it stated.

"If allowed by the customer, we record video of our technicians onsite in the process of testing detections during the installation phase," the company continued. "We store any detection image, false positive or true positive for improving our AI and providing forensic false positive reports. This data is always transmitted and stored in an encrypted format and data retention timeframes can be specified by the customer."

Iberville Parish School District in Louisiana plans to install ZeroEyes by January in hopes of boosting school security measures. Superintendent Louis Voiron told Fox News Digital, "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."

"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 continued.

Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, a New Jersey school system, stated that the AI-powered technology will allow its school resource officers to focus on building relationships with the students instead of monitoring cameras all day.

Superintendent James Reina explained, "AI, in combination with the 24-hour ZeroEyes Operations Center, is always monitoring our camera feeds for possible images of weapons, which removes the need for someone to be solely focused on the security cameras every time there are people in the building. We consider relationship building between our security guards, armed SROs and students to be critical to security, because if the kids know and trust us, they'll tell us if anybody is threatening to bring a gun to school. If an SRO is locked in a room all day watching cameras, they're not creating relationships with the community."

Earlier this year, Ocean City, another school district in New Jersey, installed ZeroEyes on school campuses. Ocean City Police Chief Jay Prettyman told ABC News in September that the tool could also deter other criminal activity.

"If we can put something in the place that we can advertise about – that can scare people from coming to Ocean City and coming to any of our schools, and we can push evil off to another day – that's what I think is our responsibility to do for our kids every day," Prettyman stated.

According to ZeroEyes, Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the United States Air Force have also implemented its technology.

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