The call for improved school safety is louder than ever in the wake of tragic shootings at schools around the country. As students, parents, and teachers demand action, schools are turning to technology for answers. From active shooter detection systems to facial recognition software, many high-tech solutions are being deployed in schools with the hope of preventing violence. But do these technologies actually make schools safer? Let’s take a closer look.
Active Shooter Detection Systems
The active-shooter detection system is one of the most popular school safety technologies. These systems use a combination of thermal cameras, acoustic sensors, and artificial intelligence algorithms to detect and report suspicious activity. By automatically alerting law enforcement to an active shooter situation, these systems hope to shorten response time and save lives.
So far, there is no evidence that these systems are effective in preventing school shootings. In fact, false alarms are alarmingly common, causing evacuations, lockdowns, and police responses that disrupt schooling and cause anxiety for students and staff. What’s more, many of these systems are prohibitively expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars to install. Given the lack of evidence for their efficacy and high cost, many experts question whether active shooter detection systems are worth the investment.
Emergency Notification Systems
In the event of an emergency, it’s important for everyone on campus to be quickly notified so that they can take appropriate action. Traditional methods like PA systems and fire drills can still be used. Still, many schools are now supplementing those with emergency notification systems that send out text messages or emails to everyone’s phones or computers. Some schools have also partnered with programs like the SaferWatch App that allows administrators to active a silent panic button that notifies local law enforcement agencies of imminent danger. That way, even if a teacher is in the middle of teaching a lesson or a student is in the middle of taking a test, they’ll still be able to see the notification and take appropriate action.
One of the simplest and most common ways that schools are using technology to improve safety is by requiring ID badges for everyone who enters the building. All visitors must check in at the office and get a badge, while staff and students typically wear badges throughout the day. This helps security guards quickly identify who belongs on campus and who doesn’t. In some cases, visitors may also be required to present a form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
Facial Recognition Software
Facial recognition software is another high-tech solution that is gaining popularity in schools. This type of software can be used for a number of purposes related to school safety, including identifying visitors, tracking truancy, and even detecting guns hidden under clothing. However, there are significant privacy concerns associated with its use in schools. This is especially true for children, who may not be able to give informed consent to having their biometric information collected and stored by the school. Additionally, facial recognition technology is notoriously inaccurate, particularly regarding people of color or those with certain facial characteristics (like glasses). Inaccurate data could lead to innocent people being accused or erroneously flagged as threats. For these reasons, many privacy advocates caution against the use of facial recognition technology in schools.
Metal Detectors and More Security Cameras
Metal detectors are another tool that is being used more frequently in schools. Metal detectors can help to screen for weapons before students enter the building. This can be an important deterrent for would-be attackers.
Security cameras are perhaps the most important tool in a school’s security arsenal. Cameras can be used to monitor activity both inside and outside of a school building. This can help identify potential threats and provide law enforcement with valuable information after an incident.
As calls for improved school safety grow louder in the wake of tragic shootings around the country, schools are increasingly turning to technology for answers. From active shooter detection systems to facial recognition software, many high-tech solutions are being deployed in schools with the hope of preventing violence. But do these technologies make schools safer? It’s hard to say. While they hold promise, they also come with significant privacy concerns, and the scope of false positives rates has been increasing over detections motion year. Given the lack of evidence for their efficacy and potential downside, many experts question whether these technologies are worth the investment. Only time will tell whether they will make a meaningful difference in school safety or just become another cost with little benefit.