The Lockport City School District, which has eight schools, will be the first in the country to trial a new facial recognition system called Aegis. The technology will be used to help security staff identify individuals who may pose a threat to students and staff members. It will also be used to detect weapons.
Last year, the district used $1.4 million it received from funding to install cameras and software ahead of the system’s launch.
The safety of students has become a major issue in the US following a series of school shootings that have taken place in recent years. In February 2018, a gunman opened fire in a school in Parkland, Florida.
America has already seen a total 15 school shootings this year. Some believe that introducing facial recognition systems will help prevent these types of attacks from happening.
The system, created by Canadian company SN Technologies, can apparently keep track of certain individuals in school grounds. They include level 2 or 3 sex offenders, anyone prohibited from entering the schools and anybody believed to pose a threat based on credible information.
The system can also identify students and staff who’ve been suspended, but it’s unclear if Lockport will use it to monitor those who’ve been suspended over non-violent offenses. According to the letter, though, Aegis will delete footage after 60 days and it won’t record the movements of students, staff and visitors that aren’t in the list of individuals to monitor. That said, the system will have to analyze everyone’s faces to identify people it has to keep an eye on.
The technology will be piloted during what has been described as an “initial implementation phase” so officials can be trained on how to use it.
However, there are plans for the system to be rolled out more widely across the district by September this year.
After Lockport’s initial announcement, the New York Civil Liberties Union investigated the effort and wrote letters to the New York State Education Department, asking it to intervene and block the project. San Francisco banned this tech, and it’s this major city closest to all the people who understand this tech the best. Why in the world would we want this to come to New York, and in a place where there are children?”
State Assembly Member Monica Wallace has also introduced a bill that would prohibit the district from using the technology. But if it fails to pass, then Lockport will be able roll it out to all its schools on September 1st. Before that happens, though, district officials have to make any adjustments needed based on Aegis’ performance during the pilot period. They’ll figure out the best camera angles and lighting during the testing phase and will also train people on how to use the system.