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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
November 23, 2022


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Keeping a watchful ‘AI’ on school safety

AJ Frazer, Chief Revenue Officer, Irisity examines the unique security challenges faced by US schools, and how AI-based video solutions can support in creating a secure and safe environment for staff and students.  

AJ Frazer, Chief Revenue Officer, Irisity

K-12 schools encounter a unique challenge within today’s threat landscape. While colleges and universities often have internal police and security units, grade school administrators and county officials are not well-equipped to handle modern security challenges.

Over the last decade, educational facilities across the globe have developed into “soft targets” for those who wish to harm, such as active shooters or vandals. As an outcome, more robust and comprehensive security technology is being implemented, and reaction strategies are continually reassessed. Video surveillance has emerged as a critical technology, but without dedicated staff to support and manage the systems, the advantages are low to none.

Traditionally, schools functioned as open learning environments where students, faculty, and staff freely entered and departed. Students arrived and left without extreme security screening. However, securing a young, vulnerable subset of the population – one continuously increasing in size and complexity – is increasingly tricky as the challenges and troubles schools face become more unforeseen each year.

In episode 7 of the IFSEC Global Security in Focus podcast, we spoke to Marisa Randazzo about her research into the behavioural psychology and patterns behind school shootings in the United States. Have a listen, below.

Open access days are now replaced with area lockdown and metal sensors during school hours. Balancing the desire for a relaxed environment with the need to protect students necessitates a resourceful approach to security.

The importance of intelligence

A heightened demand for safety comes with a high demand for intelligent video solutions. Today’s technology is more advanced than ever, permitting officials to fully integrate multiple technologies that support automation when there is an incident.

Video analytics are essential to empowering schools to manage some of the most challenging threats. Its abilities can “flag” occurrences that may be of interest, triggering a reaction that identifies where a person of interest is on campus and supplying first responders with the power to track their whereabouts.

Technological advancements and growing risks necessitate the use of video analytics. When leveraging the power of AI and deep learning, video analytics can help school authorities extract, classify, index, and identify objects and behaviours in surveillance footage. Additionally, an automated system alerts as soon as an issue is detected and reinforces the need for studying footage for forensic purposes.

Overall, video analytics aid in transforming school security measures into data-driven, proactive steps.

Protecting personal privacy

FireSafety-Schools-20Intelligent security empowers schools to know what is happening on campus at any given moment—presenting facilities with the opportunity to stop threats like vandalism or school fights before they occur. However, updating security infrastructure with intelligent solutions does not provide an ethical solution if data is not being protected. Educational facilities must seek solutions that detect suspicious activity rather than exposing personal identity. Using advanced technology that allows for the protection of staff and students is not only more ethical but provides an overall safer environment for all individuals. Additionally, seeking out surveillance solutions with patented anonymisation technology that complies with privacy regulations, is scalable and efficient, and promotes safe and ethical security.

Working proactively

Taking a proactive approach in conjunction with an intelligent and ethical video analytics solution is an ideal way to set up school safety for success. Therefore seeking to strengthen infrastructure with a solution that houses deep AI capabilities will add contextual awareness and deliver protected but precise, automated analysis that identifies potential security events.

Preventing an intruder from entering campus, monitoring visitors, and eradicating school fights are just a few ways that proactive security can help identify events of interest as situations unfold, enhancing situational awareness and supporting real-time informed responses.

Maintaining safety

Parents today are more conscious than ever of how schools address their security. As dangers evolve each year, it’s become increasingly clear that schools must proactively address security challenges. It’s crucial that educational facilities concentrate on providing the best educational experience for their students and staff while maintaining a robust security infrastructure and enforcing best practices across the facility.

Proactive and innovative technologies are necessary to provide peace of mind to parents, staff, and students while helping achieve this vital goal.

Further reading: How technology is being implemented in UK schools to improve security


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