School Security: AI Can Enhance Situational Awareness, But Relying on Technology Alone Can Be Deadly

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I recently came across a press release from a company called ZeroEyes. They make AI-powered gun detection technology. The company is touting their system being installed at a school. While technology can be a great way to augment situational awareness, we need to be careful to not get lulled into a false sense of security from such systems. Knowing of a threat and actually doing something about it are two very different things.

Let’s take a look at the technology first before we discuss its limitations.

ZeroEyes starts out with a pretty solid idea. Basically, the system is designed to spot weapons that aren’t visible to the naked eye (or camera). To train its neural networks to detect weapons in the feeds of existing school security cameras, the company has utilized hundreds of thousands of proprietary images and videos.

When a weapon is spotted, the footage and any information the neural net could determine is sent off for human verification.

Verification of every potential detection is carried out around the clock by former members of U.S military and law enforcement, operating from the in-house ZeroEyes Operations Center (ZOC). The objective is to provide accurate intelligence on gun-related incidents, including the physical description of the suspect, details such as their attire, the weapon used, and the real-time location of the incident.

If a non-lethal gun such as an AirSoft or BB is detected, law enforcement is informed, which can help keep them from overreacting. The goal is to then send this information and a photo on to security and law enforcement officials within seconds, allowing for a more rapid response than would otherwise be possible.

The system has already been deployed across a range of industries in over 30 states, including K-12 school districts, hospitals, military bases, commercial property groups, shopping malls, casinos, places of worship, manufacturing plants, and campuses of Fortune 500 companies.

What’s Great About This

Before I get to the important limitation of the system, I want to be fair and first discuss what I like about it.

First off, they’re not doing anything to target lawful concealed carry or harass people who are minding their own business. The system appears to be designed to quickly notify security and law enforcement of anyone doing something sketchy like openly carrying a rifle into a school. We’ve seen other companies that focus on disarming everyone who goes into a space to try to create “gun-free” zones. That’s not the goal of this technology (although it could be used to further that dumb idea).

Instead, they’re focusing on increasing the situational awareness of existing personnel. While every school could theoretically hire dozens of people to constantly watch doors and fencelines, that’s just not economically feasible, and vigilance tasks of that sort are known to induce drowsiness in humans.

Doing something to monitor the whole space helps increase the productivity of existing personnel, who ultimately are responsible for the response. That could include more than just security guards and police officers. Giving teachers (armed or not) a chance to barricade doors, deploy security measures, or move kids to a bullet-resistant shelter are a few examples.

The Easiest Mistake To Make Relying On This Technology

There are tons of “awareness” campaigns out there (See something, say something!). While making sure people are aware of a problem can be helpful, one of the biggest problems with such campaigns is that they often don’t inspire any action. Everyone in the world can be aware of the potential for something bad happening, but knowing about it and doing something about it are two different things.

We only have to look at Uvalde to see how this kind of technology can fail. The police on the scene in Uvalde were very much aware of what was going on. But, they stood around in hallways and looked at their cell phones while kids continued to get shot.

Now, more recently, they’re blubbering for the TV news cameras about how unsafe it was, and they’re trying to blame the shooter’s AR-15 rifle for their response — or lack thereof —  despite having multiple copies of the same firepower, not to mention body armor and ballistic shields.

The biggest mistake a school or other entity could make installing and relying on AI to protect them is to assume that the technology alone will make a space safe. Getting an alert of a guy with a gun is worthless if there isn’t a plan and willing personnel in place to do something when and if that happens.

If the whole “plan” is to wait for the police, the technology could end up being worse than useless.

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  1. “But, they stood around in hallways and looked at their cell phones while kids continued to get shot.”
    theres only 2 possible explanations for this:
    1 profound incompetence/cowardice
    2 government operation
    there are no other possible explanations

  2. I’m surprised no enterprising salesman has pushed Shotspotter for schools yet.
    It might actually work when it won’t be picking up on every urban noise and the location being covered is much smaller and relatively controlled.

    There are a lot of taxpayer dollars to pocket.

    Whenever anybody beings up relying on AI for anything I can’t help but be reminded of this:

        • was *just* about to say this, but saw that you already did as I scrolled down.

          Great minds and all that…

      • In Israel, the school teachers carry guns to protect their kids from islamic terrorists.
        Here in the USA, Randi Weingarten who is devoutly Jewish, seeks to disarm the American People based upon what criminals do with guns after the criminals have been arrested and released many times.
        Randi is the head of the teachers federation here in the USA.
        How sad for the USA.

        • In FL any school district that opts in has a trained armed individual, ALL schools have an armed resource officer… Not many “union” schools in FL…

    • I’m pretty sure THEY COULD HEAR THE SHOTS.

      It is reported that the 60yr Female principal immediately went to the “sound of the cannon”. +10pt for her. And was quickly shot/killed. Because she was (apparently) unarmed – WRONG answer sister -8pt.

  3. I’m retired. A vet. Willing to work for no pay and provide my own firearms to defend our local schools as I’m sure many more would.

    But the fascist left would never stand for it. They need murdered kids for their agenda.

    • Any man or woman worth thier salt would be there with you.

      That is what scares authoritarians, they don’t want us providing for ourselves, that takes away from the kickbacks.

    • Sounds like the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program they established in Florida. Since Florida isn’t run by leftist fascists, their kids get protection.

    • You have a very valid point. There are thousands of vets in the U.S. willing to do it. We have vets here that do it in fire team size elements at schools in our school district, with their own gear and guns, for free, I’ll call it, ‘officially but not officially’. They have kids and family members in these schools and there is actually nothing in state law that prevents them from doing this permit or not as long as they don’t enter school buildings proper except in an emergency (like a school shooting for example). And yes the police and even the (at least local) feds (FBI and ATF) are aware of it and they don’t say anything about it because they have kids and family in these schools too. Even our local anti-gun idiots don’t say anything about it because they too have kids and family in these schools. They aren’t in the school buildings proper normally, but they are on school grounds and ready out of sight and are very discreet. They know how to respond quickly to engage a hostile element and they are hindered by bureaucracy.

      Plus we also have armed teachers and school staff, and ‘school resource officers’ supplied by the sheriffs department. Its a school district decision for armed teachers and staff, most of the school districts in the state have quietly opted for armed teachers and staff.

      • correction: “…and they are hindered by bureaucracy.”

        should have been…

        and they are not hindered by bureaucracy.

  4. Fukk AI, the only REAL answer is a warm blooded human being trained, armed and ready to do battle with whatever situation arises… I am sick to death of fukking technology, “DANGER…DANGER…DANGER… Run away… AI can’t do anything to stop a shooter, it can recognize, it can alert, but it cannot shoot, disarm, disable a shooter… Bet your life on a computer program if you want to, I’ll take my chances with my own situational awareness abilities…

    The system appears to be designed to quickly notify security and law enforcement of anyone doing something sketchy like openly carrying a rifle into a school
    Which is it? Earlier paragraph says it’s to detect undetectable concealed weapons, now NOT to detect concealed carry? (ZeroEyes starts out with a pretty solid idea. Basically, the system is designed to spot weapons that aren’t visible to the naked eye (or camera)..

    • Of it’s what I think it is it’s a mix of gait analysis and symmetry comparison to determine if weight is likely being carried in a manner consistent with a pistol and/or clothing is more out of place on one side than another. I remember an advanced thermal imager was in theory supposed to be integrated in to see through clothing and pick out outlines of pistols knives etc but no idea if it got past testing phases. Either way person on site with gun willing to do violence against bad guy is still more useful than any AI powered detectors but both could be useful if the AI isn’t a massive abuse of liberty in other ways.

  5. Sounds more like a knee-jerk bit of uselessness to me.

    The more they rethink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the pipes.

    There already are much better ways of doing things that are a lot less expensive without any chance of stepping where it doesn’t belong. Just revoke the gun free school zone nonsense.

  6. OK…we’ve buried all the schools underground and no one can get in not even school kids. Perps who criminally misuse anything they can get their hands on will simply find soft targets elsewhere.

    Like I have said after everyone of these tragedies…There is always another upset, evil minded person out there somehere…Be prepared.

  7. First it was 9-11 now its gunms.
    It’d really be nice to be able to take a piss out in the woods without being video taped.

    • I can attest to that one. There was a camera on a fence in a very rural area. I thought the solar panel was for an electric fence at first. Plan on being videoed everywhere you go. Cameras are cheap.

    • Relax, and go with the flow, possum. You realize that you’re a porn star, don’t you? I like to watch possum porn on porntube! Possum pissing in the woods, possum taking a dump, possum mating with every passing female possum, possum licking himself . . . we need more cameras in the woods!!

  8. Great, let’s use technology to give scumbag authorities more ways to harass honest citizens while they simultaneously choose to do nothing about actual bad actors

  9. More atheists trying to use technology, to create their utopia. By “removing” what they consider to be human flaws. Technology that was created in the mind of humans and built by humans.

  10. How many of us remember armed guards in banks, and bank branches? They’ve mostly done away with armed guards now. Instead, they put up cameras, and rely on facial recognition and such to catch the bad guy.

    The cameras don’t stop a robbery, the cameras only make it more likely that the robber will be caught.

    Zeroeyes is a fairly good idea, but, it’s going to make security people complacent, and lazy.

    Zeroeyes is a bad idea, because we aren’t concerned with catching the bad guy. Instead, we need to stop the bad guy. No matter how instantaneously Zeroeyes reports the bad guy, the cops are still minutes away. How many seconds does it take to shoot up one classroom? If the cops are 7 minutes away, how many classrooms can the bad guy shoot up?

    The math just doesn’t add up for me.

    Arm the teachers. They are already on scene.

  11. Simplest and most cost effective solution would be to allow those on staff in the school who want too arm themselves and get trained to deal with an armed intruder etc. Several of the staff and teachers in my grandkids school have their own children in the school system. Think that could be a bit of an incentive to stop an attacker? Bet there several retired military or LEo’s who have kids or grandkids in any school who would show up on a rotation for a day or half a day a couple days a week.
    AI tech or security cameras are great so long as someone is paying attention and acting on the information. If all that is done is some third party is sort of watching and calling police perhaps in time or perhaps not, the whole mess is just an expensive waste of time and effort.

  12. Its an idea but still not effective overall unless the shooter is obvious about it outside the school/area and delays his/her entry for some reason and the police can get there fast enough before the shooter appears in the kill zone.

    For example, look at the latest, police got notified at 10:13 a.m. local time and 14 minutes later they stopped the shooter. 14 minutes is a longgggg time for a shooter to have complete target zone dominance unopposed. I’m not being critical of police here, the police in this case did what they were suppose to do and were not cowards like those cops at Uvalde were… but just pointing out the weakness in waiting for police to handle it, its more likely people are injured or killed waiting for police to handle it plain and simple.

    When the shooter has appeared in the kill zone, waiting for police to arrive and handle it always gives the mass shooter just what they need – and that is (on average for most mass shootings, a mass school shooting is a mass shooting just at a school) a minimum of 3 minutes of kill zone dominance, and sometimes longer (over 97% of mass shootings 1950 to date, and then there is Uvalde).

    An already on scene ordinary law abiding armed person who engages the shooter quickly removes that advantage from the mass shooter and provides a much better chance (more than 94% better vs waiting for police where its more than 80% likely there will be serious injury or death) in the moment than the victims have waiting for police to arrive (over 95% of mass shootings 1950 to date where an ordinary law abiding armed person was permitted to go armed).

  13. Amen on arming the teachers. My wife and daughters were talking about the thing in Nashville last night. My wife does alot of teaching and used to teach at my daughters school. Wife mentioned she wanted to ask the administration if she could carry her gat but never did.

    We mentioned the lady just walked up to the school with a rifle. My daughter said “glass doors are stupid and is nobody armed at my school??”

    My 10 yr old instantly recognized the ridiculousness of a gun free zone. Geez

  14. Armed teachers? ABSOLUTELY! Utah has ALLOWED any teacher with a CCW permit to carry in and at school events since the 1990’s. No school shootings there. Training?
    F.A.S.T.E.R. some of the best training.
    Everybody acts like teachers can’t handle firearms. I have taught Social Studies, Sped. Pistol and Rifle for almost 15 years.

  15. “…while kids continued to get shot.”

    As if they volunteered? Those kids were not “getting” shot. A madman continued to shoot them while the authorities stood by. Isn’t active voice taught any more in writing classes?

  16. I would be concerned about false reports with this system. Walk just a little off for benign reasons and get questioned by security or cops. Better not tryout for silly walks around such systems.

    Also heard of similar AI systems being developed that tries to determine peoples’ emotional states. Sadly I think such AI systems will be mostly used for quack precrime enforcement purposes. No wrong walking or wrong thinking least you get reeducated. Just way too many ways for these systems to be abused.

  17. AI/AGI (AGI: Artificial General Intelligence). We will learn to love it before we learn to fear and hate it. This is one early example.

  18. Hire an experienced team of annotators, now! Here you are offered a workforce that meets your requirements in terms of language, time zone and qualifications, and you should pay attention to it! Machine learning will provide you with a range of quality services, try it! I hope this helped you!

  19. Indeed, in order to create something new and something worth paying attention to, you need to be an expert in your field. For example, it is not enough to just know how to use a camera, you need to have good taste, be able to create something new, for example photos suitable for world kissing day, have a sense of style, understand the basics of working with light, know the rules of composition, the ability to clearly capture an object in motion.

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