After the outcry following the most publicized and one of the deadliest school shootings in US history, Parkland School District plans to purchase a sophisticated $600,000 145-camera artificial intelligence security and surveillance system to help prevent school shootings and other serious acts of violence in the future. While many are thankful for the proactive approach by the school district, a few are airing their concerns which pose interesting questions about potential for abuse and a surveillance-state by the school district. The New York Post reports more on the details.
The Florida school district hit by a mass shooting one year ago on Valentine’s Day plans to introduce a new surveillance system that can alert officials to student threats.
The Broward County Public School District — which includes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where Nikolas Cruz allegedly massacred 17 people — said it would install a camera-software combination called Aviglon with the capability to track students based on their appearance, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The 145-camera artificial intelligence system, to be installed around the perimeters of schools considered to be “at highest risk,” can immediately pull up video of everywhere a student has been recorded on campus, according to the report.
The service, purchased for $1 billion by Motorola Solutions last year, will automatically alert school monitoring officers of incidents “that seem out of the ordinary” and people “in places they are not supposed to be,” the paper reported.
But a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School math teacher — who helped shelter her students in place the day of the mass shooting — is a vocal critic of the system.
“How is this computer going to make a decision on what’s the right and wrong thing in a school with over 3,000 kids?” Kimberly Krawczyk, a 15-year teacher who was on the third floor of the school’s freshman building, told the outlet. “We have cameras now every two feet, but you can’t get a machine to do everything a human can do. You can’t automate the school. What are we turning these schools into?”
The district is expected to spend upward of $600,000 in federal and local funds to activate the system if it wins final approval from county leaders over the next few weeks, contracting records obtained by the paper show.
The system is not without its weaknesses.
The accuracy rate of its appearance search — a two-year-old feature that enables officials to find people based on their clothing — varies significantly depending on lighting and the season, Mahesh Saptharishi, chief technology officer at Motorola Solutions, told the paper.
And though its “unusual motion detection” feature is branded as a way to sense when students are fighting — or running away from an attack — it could mistakenly identify day-to-day happenings as dangerous, some students worried.
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