Academic reputation is a key driver for colleges and universities to attract the best students, but campus safety is becoming an increasingly important factor in the college-choice equation. Topping the list of safety concerns is the threat of gun violence at schools, which struck on a nearly weekly basis in the past year in the United States. Of the 45 school shootings that took place up to Nov. 19, 2019, 14 occurred on higher education campuses, according to a CNN report. The active-shooter-on-campus threat is real, and it's the primary threat that keeps campus safety leaders up at night thinking of new ways to detect, deter and react to such incidents. Other top campus crime concerns include burglaries, forcible sex offenses, vehicle theft, assault and robberies.
LOUISVILLE – Even after Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett sent out an email notifying school officials that esports teams may not participate in the video game "Fortnite," there was nothing to be done among schools here. That's because "Fortnite," an online video game developed by Epic Games and released in 2017, was never included among the games played by Kentucky students in high school competitions. "Fortnite" is a third-person shooter game that doesn't include any blood, injuries or dead bodies, but nevertheless was given a Teen rating for violence by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Epic Games and PlayVS, a software company that provides a platform for competitive esports, last week announced last Wednesday a partnership to introduce a competitive league for "Fortnite" across high schools and colleges. "There is no place for shooter games in our schools," Tackett said, adding that the KHSAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations had no knowledge that "Fortnite" was being added as part of the competition platform and are "strongly against it."
As mass shootings at US schools increase in frequency while our country's gun control laws remain weaker than those in any other developed nation, more school administrators across the US are turning to artificially intelligent surveillance tools in an attempt to beef up school safety. But systems that allow schools to easily track people on campus have left some worried about the impact on student privacy. Recode has identified at least nine US public school districts -- including the district home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida, which in 2018 experienced one of the deadliest school shootings in US history -- that have acquired analytic surveillance cameras that come with new, AI-based software, including one tool called Appearance Search. Appearance Search can find people based on their age, gender, clothing, and facial characteristics, and it scans through videos like facial recognition tech -- though the company that makes it, Avigilon, says it doesn't technically count as a full-fledged facial recognition tool. Even so, privacy experts told Recode that, for students, the distinction doesn't necessarily matter.
After a school shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead, RealNetworks decided to make its facial recognition technology available for free to schools across the US and Canada. If school officials could detect strangers on their campuses, they might be able to stop shooters before they got to a classroom. Anxious to keep children safe from gun violence, thousands of schools reached out with interest in the technology. Dozens started using SAFR, RealNetworks' facial recognition technology. From working with schools, RealNetworks, the streaming media company, says it's learned an important lesson: Facial recognition isn't likely an effective tool for preventing shootings.
For years, the Denver public school system worked with Video Insight, a Houston-based video management software company that centralized the storage of video footage used across its campuses. So when Panasonic acquired Video Insight, school officials simply transferred the job of updating and expanding their security system to the Japanese electronics giant. That meant new digital HD cameras and access to more powerful analytics software, including Panasonic's facial recognition, a tool the public school system's safety department is now exploring. Denver, where some activists are pushing for a ban on government use of facial recognition, is not alone. Mass shootings have put school administrators across the country on edge, and they're understandably looking at anything that might prevent another tragedy.
A group of veterans inspired by the need to keep schools and public spaces safer have created a new technology they say can detect guns and send out alerts before shots are ever fired. Active shooter situations have played out across the country – a gunman opened fire inside a Florida high school, shots rang out at a Texas Walmart and multiple people were shot to death in an office building in Virginia Beach. The nation's most recent school shooting happened Thursday morning – when a 16-year-old high school student in Santa Clarita, California, opened fire in the campus quad, shooting five classmates and killing two. What if the gun was detected early – so early, the shooter was never able to get inside to hurt anyone? The technology to do that exists, and only WUSA9 was there when it was tested in Northern Virginia.
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For Adam Jasinski, a technology director for a school district outside of St Louis, Missouri, monitoring student emails used to be a time-consuming job. Jasinski used to do keyword searches of the official school email accounts for the district's 2,600 students, looking for words like "suicide" or "marijuana". Then he would have to read through every message that included one of the words. The process would occasionally catch some concerning behavior, but "it was cumbersome", Jasinski recalled. Last year Jasinski heard about a new option: following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the technology company Bark was offering schools free, automated, 24-hour-a-day surveillance of what students were writing in their school emails, shared documents and chat messages, and sending alerts to school officials any time the monitoring technology flagged concerning phrases.
Security has risen to the top of the priority list for many managers in institutional and commercial facilities. Nowhere is the issue more important that in K-12 schools, given the growing threat that mass shooters present to students, staff and faculty. School district officials have revisited every conceivable angle of the issue as it relates to facilities, from building design to access control. Now some managers are taking a closer look at emerging technology to give them an edge. Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to change security cameras in school districts from passive to active observers, according to VOA News.
People have long blamed video games as a cause of school shootings, but a new study has found that this is more likely to be the case if the perpetrator is white. Researchers have found that video games are eight times more likely to be mentioned when the perpetrator was a white male than if the shooter were an African American male. Experts believe the public looks to find an explanation for this type of behavior if the act is carried out by someone who doesn't match the racial stereotype of a violent person. Although many politicians and media outlets point to violent video games as the cause of school shootings, experts have yet to find scientific evidence to support these claims. 'Video games are often used by lawmakers and others as a red herring to distract from other potential causes of school shootings,' said lead researcher Patrick Markey, PhD, a psychology professor at Villanova University.