Texas school district using new technology to improve school security

There’s a smarter way to protect your child’s classroom. Imagine being able to identify a threat before it reaches the front door.

A Texas district implementing artificial intelligence to bring its campus safety to the next level.

Since Columbine, more than 330,000 students in America have experienced gun violence at school, according to The Washington Post.

Stephen Gold, SparkCognition’s Chief Marketing Officer said, “We saw 193 gun-related incidents on campuses last year, the largest number since we have been tracking gun-related violence on campus.”

SparkCognition is a Texas-based artificial intelligence solutions company that works to solve problems while making industries more sustainable, safer, and more profitable. The company is based out of Austin.

In a rural community northwest of Austin, some 8,000 students attend school at Liberty Hill Independent School District.

Like most schools in America, its high school is equipped with layers of security.

Travis Motal is the Director of Secondary Education & Director of CTE, Fine Arts, and School Safety at Liberty Hill ISD.

“So, we’re doing all of these things and they are all great, but they are all, once the danger has gotten here already and now, we are trying to slow it down, and not let it in; but if I could detect the danger before it even gets there, how much better is that information,” Motal said.

In search of a security measure that is proactive Motal, discovered Sparkcognition.

“We can actually anticipate, what’s likely to happen or come in the future,” Articulated Gold says.

SparkCognition’s AI utilizes a school’s existing camera infrastructure to proactively detect anything and everything unusual in real time to alert authorities.

The warning comes with specific details: location, time, visual ID, and additional information, like if a weapon was detected. Alerts are automatic and can be sent via web, email, apps, and texts providing school staff and first responders extra time to act.

“Imagine giving them that level of understanding so when they arrive, they are fully briefed and ready to act. The FBI has reported, and tracked the typical active shooting, that individual will stage 2 to 20 minutes before any shot is fired.” Explained Gold.

The technology is 100% customizable. From a virtual fence to weapon detection, door monitoring, and license plate and human identification. Its capabilities are detecting threats are extensive. Visual AI does not require an operator.

“The benefit is the AI doesn’t get tired, take a break, go home, it’s on 24/7,” Gold said.

This added layer of security is providing students and parents with peace of mind.

Kelli Witt is a mother of two children in the district.

“I think it is really valuable. It’s a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive approach, so many times it’s like, what you read or hear, it’s too late, you’ve already lost lives,” Witt said.

Maddie Davis attends school at Liberty Hill ISD.

“I definitely feel safer knowing the school prioritizes and the district prioritizes our safety. It’s good knowing there’s a set of eyes, everywhere in case something does happen,” Davis said.

Gold said this technology could save lives.

“Ultimately it has the ability to prevent loss of life. Simply by interpreting information, moving that information to a place it can be acted upon. Unlike the other systems, films for windows, bulletproof glass, door locks, this is a predictive approach to school safety.”

The cost of the technology, according to Gold, is based on cameras and student count which could be thousands of dollars a month.

Liberty Hill ISD prioritized almost $3 million to make their schools safer this school year. Visual A-I at the high school will come online at the end of the month.

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