Page 150 - Security Today, July/August 2018
P. 150

Schools are investing in security with advanced technology such as facial recognition By Peter Trepp
As Dr. Larry Barton soberly noted at a security confer- ence in Las Vegas this past February, mass shootings are “the new normal.” For many years, the University of Central Florida professor and FBI instructor tracked the increasing frequency of mass shootings with dots on a timeline. But in recent years, mass shootings became so frequent that the dots on Dr. Barton’s graph formed a single solid line.
Education Week’s log of school shootings reveals at least 13 inci- dents in 2018 so far, with 97 people killed or injured. How do we stop this unending cycle of violence? The political debate surrounding this issue has become more fervent since the shooting that took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this year. While pro- posals range from banning all guns to arming teachers on campus, almost every serious plan is somehow divisive, with major opposition from public, corporate and political factions.
But a new layer of security that is substantially more pragmatic is now gaining traction: face recognition.
Consider how much was known about the suspect in the Parkland incident before an Uber dropped him off in front of Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School, armed with an AR-15. Parkland’s sheriff, Scott Israel, revealed that the department had received 23 calls about the suspect over the past decade. The calls mentioned a “mentally ill per- son,” a “domestic disturbance” and more. An unidentified peer coun- selor alerted the high school that the suspect had inflicted self-harm and “wished to purchase a gun.” The sheriff ’s office received a tip that he had been collecting guns and knives and “could be a school shooter in the making.” According to a math teacher at the high school, “administration had sent out an email warning teachers that [he] had made threats against other teenagers.”
By the time that the suspect was expelled from school, there was enough data to conclude that he posed a very real risk to school safety. Given all the valuable information available, how did an expelled stu- dent with a history of making threats and violence end up taking 17 innocent lives? The fact is that data itself is only valuable if it is deliv- ered in an actionable context. By the time the shooter was recognized by a faculty member, walking purposefully toward a school building, it was already too late. Law enforcement officials could only react to a horrible crime in progress.
Artem Oleshko/

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