An Upstate New York school district will turn on its controversial automated surveillance software that can detect guns and identify faces on June 3, 2019. Lockport City School District was the first in the nation to install the enhanced Aegis camera system in its schools back in October 2018 and will now begin testing it. The security system is intended to become broadly operational across the district's high school, middle school and six elementary schools by September 1, 2019. The Aegis surveillance system can identify guns in the video footage it records and cross-reference people's faces against its security databases. The controversial development has attracted pushback from local parents, privacy advocates and some legislators, who say it could invade students' privacy.
In this July 10, 2018 photo, a camera with facial recognition capabilities hangs from a wall while being installed at Lockport High School in Lockport, N.Y. The surveillance system that has kept watch on students entering Lockport schools for over a decade is getting a novel upgrade. Facial recognition technology soon will check each face against a database of expelled students, sex offenders and other possible troublemakers. It could be the start of a trend as more schools fearful of shootings consider adopting the technology, which has been gaining ground on city streets and in some businesses and government agencies. Just last week, Seattle-based digital software company RealNetworks began offering a free version of its facial recognition system to schools nationwide.
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.
An Upstate New York school is using facial recognition technology to help it spot possible school shooters or escaped felons on campus. Lockport City School District has installed a surveillance system in a high school, middle school and several elementary schools that scans students' faces to check for matches in its security database. The controversial move has attracted pushback from local parents, privacy advocates and some legislators who say it could invade students' privacy. Each client who chooses to install the system is able to choose which information is loaded into its database. They may source the material from local mugshot databases or images of students who've been expelled.
When school began in Lockport, New York, this past fall, the halls were lined not just with posters and lockers, but cameras. Over the summer, a brand new $4 million facial recognition system was installed by the school district in the town's eight schools from elementary to high school. The system scans the faces of students as they roam the halls, looking for faces that have been uploaded and flagged as dangerous. "Any way that we can improve safety and security in schools is always money well spent," David Lowry, president of the Lockport Education Association, told the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Rose Eveleth is an Ideas contributor at WIRED and the creator and host of Flash Forward, a podcast about possible (and not so possible) futures.