Tallahassee schools to use AI in gun detection

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The tech world has been abuzz for a while now with discussions about artificial intelligence, or AI. Once the realm of science fiction, it sort of has become a reality.


I say “sort of” because while AI can mimic certain aspects of a person, it’s really not that intelligent. There’s only so much it can do and it’s not hard to figure out you’re talking to a computer program, which means it’s not going to pass the Turing Test.

That said, the technology is genuinely interesting. I’ve seen some really great art “created” by it and a lot of other cool and interesting things created with it as well.

But now, schools in Tallahassee, Florida are going to use it to detect guns.

Hoping to bolster efforts to keep guns off campus, Leon County Schools is turning to artificial intelligence to help detect the presence of firearms.

School board members on Tuesday unanimously approved a $30,700 contract with Zero Eyes, a Pennsylvania company, to provide cloud-based software enabling school security cameras to recognize guns when they’re not concealed.

“Zero Eyes is a software enhancement for our preexisting cameras adding another layer of security to prevent guns, firearms on campus,” Jimmy Williams, the district’s chief of safety and security, told school board members.

Once a weapon is detected in real time, an alert is sent to the company’s monitoring command center in Philadelphia where the detection is immediately confirmed by a human and alerted to the school’s administration and local law enforcement.

“This is incredible,” School Board chair Alva Swafford Smith said. “I was just in awe of this product.”


Now, let’s talk a bit about this for a moment.

The first thing I thought was, “Anyone can detect an unconcealed gun.” Then I realized I was being stupid. I mean, yeah, pretty much anyone can realize they’re looking at a gun when they see it–or, at least, a gun-shaped object–what the AI system does is detect a firearm when there isn’t a person around.

Think about Parkland, for a moment. The gunman entered the school with an AR-15, meaning it wasn’t concealed. He then pulled the fire alarm, thus flooding the hallway with potential targets.

But a system like this might have led to the detection of that weapon much faster, potentially leading to a lockdown and an order to disregard the fire alarm.

Plus, let’s look at the price for a moment.

Yes, more than $30,000 is a lot of money for most of us, but when you think about the stupid amounts governments tend to spend, this isn’t all that bad. It’s practically free by government standards.

So yeah, I’m kind of interested to see how this AI system works out. I hope it does what it’s advertised to do and it can hopefully save lives.


It’s stuff like this that we talk about when we suggest hardening our schools. Let’s use innovative ways to keep our kids safe in schools and make these places bad targets for would-be mass murderers.

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