High school students combat school shootings

High school students combat school shootings
AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

No one is just fine with school shootings. While most of what’s counted as them are really just shootings that sort of involve a school, even if no one was there at the time, the truth is that we also have things like Columbine, Parkland, and Uvalde.


It seems that some students in the Bay Area are, like many students these days, worried.

Rather than lament things they can’t change, they decided to do something different. They decided to do something that might actually work.

After 10 years of waiting for things to change, Wang — a rising senior at San Jose’s Gunderson High — decided to take things into her own hands. This summer, she and three friends will be refining SIREN, an artificial intelligence device they’ve trained to detect gunshots and instantly communicate with all students, staff members and teachers at an affected school, along with the police department.

“Right now, it’s terrifying to be a student in America,” said Wang. “It seems like this nightmare will never stop for us.”

Just months after Uvalde, Wang, Srivastava and two other juniors, Santa Clara High School’s Caitlin Nguyen, and Mission San Jose High School’s Audrey Wang, started brainstorming ways to decrease police response time and increase the information shared with students, teachers, parents and school staff who are under attack. The four had met through hackathons and coding camps, and in the past, had bonded over being women in technology.

Ultimately, they came up with SIREN, a 3-by-6-inch device that screws onto ceilings like a smoke detector. It’s equipped with a microphone and a computer program trained to identify a gunshot, and with multiple devices located across a school, it can pinpoint exactly where a shot is coming from. Within five seconds, SIREN can send a map of the school — and the location of the shot — through an SMS message to all students, teachers, staff and the local police department.


All of this can contribute to a faster response by the authorities which may well do wonders to save lives.

Then there’s the possibility that potential mass shooters may start accounting for the faster response times for school shootings and decide there are “better” targets.

While we’d prefer an end to mass shootings in general, the reality is that it’s difficult to harden everything. This SIREN system, if it works as advertised, may be a viable part of attempts to protect our kids while at school.

This is productive and it’s something we should all rally behind.

School shootings aren’t something we should have to deal with. If we can address the issue without stomping on people’s rights, so much the better, especially since we know gun control won’t actually stop them.

This won’t necessarily stop them either, truth be told, but it could both reduce the shootings and reduce the severity of them should one take place.

Both are worthy efforts.

I’m pretty excited to see what these kids’ technology will do and how it’s implemented going forward. I suspect that if it works as advertised, it’ll do a lot of good.


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