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.
The facial-recognition cameras installed near the bounce houses at the Warehouse, an after-school recreation center in Bloomington, Indiana, are aimed low enough to scan the face of every parent, teenager and toddler who walks in. The center's director, David Weil, learned earlier this year of the surveillance system from a church newsletter, and within six weeks he had bought his own, believing it promised a security breakthrough that was both affordable and cutting-edge. Since last month, the system has logged thousands of visitors' faces – alongside their names, phone numbers and other personal details – and checked them against a regularly updated blacklist of sex offenders and unwanted guests. The system's Israeli developer, Face-Six, also promotes it for use in prisons and drones. "Some parents still think it's kind of '1984,' " said Weil, whose 21-month-old granddaughter is among the scanned.
San Francisco supervisors approved a ban on police using facial recognition technology, making it the first city in the U.S. with such a restriction. Facial recognition has enrolled in school. On Monday, a New York school district became one of the first in the U.S. to roll out facial recognition technology on campus using its students' faces as an added layer of security. The system of cameras can also be used to identify guns or flagged persons, such as expelled students and sex offenders, according to the school district. The Lockport City School District will pilot its Aegis system over the summer and will expand the technology to each of its eight schools before classes resume in the fall.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. With another deadly massacre on the school shooting tally board-- the third in a week, the 22nd this year, according to CNN's parameters--at least one school district is focusing on making schools safer. The only issue is, it's missing the issue. The upstate New York district of Lockport is introducing facial recognition and tracking software to its school security systems, the same kind of software used in airports and casinos. Individual students won't be programmed into the system unless "there's a reason," reports the Buffalo News, but people who are "known" threats will be, with the program alerting district officials if a recorded individual comes within range of the school cameras.
With the wave of school shootings that have swept the U.S. in recent years, concerns about physical security and safety have overwhelmed parents, teachers and school administrators alike. Facial recognition technology, which would allow schools and law enforcement to quickly identify who is entering their schools and when could give school districts a powerful means to make schools even safer. Last month, RealNetworks, the streaming media company that garnered attention in the '90s and early 2000s for developing the first audio streaming solution, announced it would offer its facial recognition software, SAFR, for free to over 100,000 school districts. "School safety has become one of the top national issues in the United States in 2018," said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks in a press release. "We are proud to give our leading-edge SAFR for K-12 technology solution to every elementary, middle, and high school in America and Canada.