student with gun and backpack

How AI and IoT Can Prevent School Shootings

The new technology can assist with monitoring and identify threats in real time

By Maura Keller, Contributing Writer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Getting High-Tech with School SafetyPt. 2: This Page

Cost consideration aside, with artificial intelligence video surveillance and with remote guarding, schools can finally get proactive with their security and stop incidents in real time.  

While AI can help identify suspicious activities by monitoring social media and online activities, analyzing data, and empowering surveillance systems, McDonald adds that AI is going to be a great tool for schools but it is also going to change how threats happen. 

 “A lot of shooters broadcast their intentions publicly – such as on social media – and tell us before they’re coming. With the use of AI, the challenges of those threats and understanding and trying to figure out who made those threats is going to get much more complicated,” McDonald says. “And schools are not prepared for what's coming. Today AI can replicate a person’s voice, face, and body. AI can make everything like you, which means AI also can be used so that the focus is on a different person, not the actual shooter.”  

At the same time, AI-based weapon detection software and facial recognition software can greatly enhance the ability to intercede before a shooting takes place.  

“This type of technology offers a huge opportunity, but there’s also a big cost. It’s not cheap,” McDonald says.  

In the area of the IoT, wireless sensors are being used to streamline to send a signals. As Constanzo explains, most IoT sensors either utilize a Wi-Fi or cell network, which conveniently are available at most schools.  

“We work with an organization called Disruptive Technologies that has a sensor smaller than a scrabble tile. It can conveniently be installed in a door jam. Installation is literally peel and stick,” Costanzo says.  

And while the various safety technologies, such as cameras, access control readers, and digital locks, currently used in school environments are not tied together yet, AI will combine them. As Costanzo points out, many children and all staff have smartphones, the cell phone providers could provide a report today if asked when individuals are entering and exiting most schools.    

Related Content: 8 Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Facility Management

“If you think about it, unless you are in an urban area, most schools are surrounded by fields.   This isn’t a hard calculation,” Costanzo says. “In terms of indoor positioning, it is possible to know where a phone or computers are within a few meters. The Wi-Fi networks in place provide the ‘mapping’ part of this. Adding some counting sensors and occupancy sensors leverages a whole new set of data. Then, plug this into a smart AI algorithm with some learning, it isn’t difficult to calculate how many individuals are in a space such as a classroom in an active shooter scenario. This isn’t anything unique, it is just an application of a smart building.” 

Indeed, many corporations are actively leveraging this technology today. Since the pandemic, many people don’t come into the office every day and most office workers don’t have an assigned seat. Facility managers need to know who is coming in so they can be directed towards their reserved seat or assign a seat to them.    

“Tracking occupants in a school is an easier use case technologically,” Costanzo says, “What’s more interesting is that a camera hooked up to an AI tool could tell you exactly when you enter and leave a building. There are several governments doing this on a massive scale to track citizens. We won’t allow this in the U.S., but it can be done today.” 

Considerations to make 

Here’s one thing we know: Technological advancements are in a constant state of flux. This reality, coupled with the ever-changing nature of the way technology and connectivity intersect, results in a need for educational safety professionals to stay abreast of the technology and the inherent risks involved. 

Specifically, facility managers and school professionals who are considering incorporating the “latest and greatest” AI and IoT technologies in school environments need to consider several things.  

First, most schools can’t afford high-tech equipment. So, don’t get caught up in a new expensive technology. Costanzo advises facilities professionals wait until mass adoption where costs are just a fraction of what early adopters pay.    

Second, do some homework. This isn’t just talking to vendors, but also talking to peers and industry associations, and reading industry media. Third, once facility managers have been able to do a little homework, develop a clear definition of the need.  

“This definition should not only address the immediate need but look a little into the future,” Costanzo says. “Finally, once you’ve selected your technology work with an experienced provider to help you set things up. Many technology implementations fail, not because it is the wrong technology, but it is implemented poorly.”     

As Costanzo explains, the major players in the IT industry are investing heavily in the concepts of smart buildings reacting to occupants. For that reaction, location of individuals is important.   

“School facility managers will be able to conveniently leverage this,” Costanzo says. “Costs should come down as a result.”  

Maura Keller is a freelance writer based in Plymouth, Minnesota. 


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  posted on 4/11/2024   Article Use Policy

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