Artificial Intelligence now available to detect weapons as they approach schools

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -School districts across the country spent much of their summer break re-examining their safety measures and security plans, in the wake of the devastating shooting in Uvlade, Texas.

The newest trend in school security, is artificial intelligence. Iterate.ai is applying the same kind tech that helps track down criminals with license plate and face recognition, to detect weapons on people who are approaching a school.

Iterate founder Brian Santhianathan says they trained their platform in a large catalog of weapons, using 25,000 images.

“We have also trained it to detect knives, sharp objects and things like Kevlar vests. We have also trained it to detect masks, both robbery masks and medical masks,” he said.

Santhianathan says their technology is already at work preventing armed robberies at two thousand convenient stores in Europe.

“We want to help add one more layer of security to all the tools that are out there,” he said.

The Iterate.ai platform detects weapons on someone as they approach a school, up to 100 feet away and with a 270 degree span.

“We take a video stream feed or our ai systems would tap into those video feeds and our AI system runs through there,” said Santhianathan.

The software is integrated in a school’s security system and can set off an alert, and response.

“Doors can be locked, whatever the appropriate action can be taken,” he said.

Tim Armelli, of the Coach Hall Foundation, founded after the fatal shooting at Chardon High School, sees value in the potential response time, with a school resource officer on site, to react to this threat detection.

“We know in school systems if it goes to the police department it might be a 3-4 minute lag before they’re able to get to the building. We know in our incident, once the shooting started, our shooter was out of the building in less than a minute,” said Armelli.

Santhianathan say their technology can detect a weapon within 30 milliseconds. That goes applies to weapons you can see. They are currently experimenting with millimeter radar technology that’s integrated with their vision.

This will be best used at vulnerability points, to function as a metal detector, catching concealed weapons like the machines you see at the airport, but with a much smaller footprint and much smaller price tag.

“Once we go to market this will be under ten thousand,” Santhianathan said.

This will be the first school year the tech will be used in schools. Armelli says this tech could be a game changer

“It can identify a potential incident before it happens. The key with that is where does that response go?” he said.

Several local districts recently received hundreds of thousands in grant money to spend on enhancing safety.

“Something can always happen. Nothing is 100 percent or full proof. But there are things that I have I believe we need that could allow us to be much safer than what we are right now,” said Olmsted Falls superintendent, Dr. James Lloyd.

David Rogers with Raptor Tech says demand they usually see this time of year has doubled.

“It’s really kind of sad that that’s what drives the demand, but safety and security becomes very visible at that point,” Rogers said. Raptor’s volunteer and emergency management software is already at work in nearly 50 Northeast Ohio school districts.

There are 35 thousand schools in five thousand districts across the country also utilizing their suite of tools that help schools track drills, and employ a Raptor Alert.

“It allows you to have a panic button that will alert everybody on campus-anything from a gas leak to an active shooter situation,” he said.

They now have software which they recently tested in a school in Texas to automate the reunification process after an emergency, and newly launched this summer, is Student Safe.

“You always hear, ‘That kid in third grade, we always knew he was the one that was going to go off the rails.’ What our software allows you to do is start to capture some of those low level concerns that a coach, teacher, bus driver might notice. And if you have enough things that happen in rapid succession, or if it’s a high enough level of thing you might worry about, you let the counselor know so you may wrap that kid around with the right type of services,” said Rogers.

Schools have the capability to use the Student Safe info to make behavioral threat assessments.

“It really provides insight as to what’s going on with that child’s life and early intervention so you don’t get to the point where they become a threat or get to the point where they become an active shooter,” he said.

These same tools can aid in bullying and suicide prevention.

Armelli says one of the first things they tell schools when they’re considering new security products is to get the opinion of their local first responders, and clue them in on roadblocks they’ll encounter in an incident.

“We have bullet resistant glass, or films that go over and if fire department needs to breach, they figure the fastest way is to go through glass, and they can’t. They’re wasting time, valuable time,” said Armelli.

He says they’ve been studying products being marketed and communicating to schools some of the pitfalls and shortcomings before districts put their trust and precious school safety dollars into them.

“In a time of crisis you lose a lot of your fine motor skills some of these products need you to turn, push, key and it’s very difficult under a stressful situation to do those types of things,” he said.

Armelli says he hasn’t seen price gouging in response to the incredible demand this summer. And not every school security measure needs to come with a large price tag, like adding speakers in hallways instead of just in classrooms, for instance.

Some solutions could be as simple as a door or design choice, putting the window on the opposite side of the lock and handle so an intruder can’t break the window and reach to get in.

Rogers says, if a district buys everything Raptor Tech has to offer, with the exception of Student Safe, it would cost less than outfitting a pair of football players, around 1800 dollars per school.

To make good on their intentions to do good with this AI technology, Iterate has a much different price point for schools, than for commercial customers.

Installing their technology would require a five-to-ten-thousand-dollar initial investment then just one thousand dollars a year per school.

Armelli says the amount of attention paid to school safety makes him more comfortable entering in to the school year, grateful that many schools are taking the “it won’t happen here” mentality to invest time and money in keeping kids safe.

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