KSL Investigates: Utah Schools Test AI Safety Technology

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SALT LAKE CITY — From the capitol to the classroom, Utahns see a need for increased school safety. Artificial intelligence can be the solution.

Dozens of Utah school districts are relying on AI to stop violence at the door. He told KSL he's seeing an increase in troubling behaviors, including more weapons on campus.

KSL examined three different types of security technology used in Utah schools: Evolv, ZeroEyes and AEGIX.


Hunter High School students have been walking between the Evolv weapons detection towers for the past year. Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said the search for new security technology is necessary.

“About a year and a half ago, we saw an increase in the number of weapons on school campuses,” Horsley said. “In one year, we had over two dozen weapons brought to school campuses, including this campus.”

Evolv machines use AI to detect objects that look like a large knife or gun.

“Their aim is what you see at a large Marriott Center or other major sporting events where you're walking past, and it detects the size and density and shape of a potential weapon,” he said.

Horsley said they've done several undercover operations to test it, and it works.

“In less than a year since it's been in place, we've found weapons on campus outside of the building, so that shows us that internally, students know they can't bring weapons on campus.” They said.

“The state has provided us with security information that gang member chatter and other social media posts where kids talk about not being able to bring a weapon on campus, knowing that doing so could expose them. Will.”

A Hunter High School student walks past the Evolv AI weapons detection towers in an unidentified photo. (Photo: Shelby Lofton, KSL-TV)

He said that technology removes human bias.

“We're sensitive to that,” Horsley said. “We wouldn't want any student to be targeted as a result of their race or ethnicity. That's why we'd like to use an AI technology instead of a human aspect because it's just the size and density and shape of one.” Looking for weapons.”

Hunter High School senior Griffin Gallagher told KSL-TV he sees some flaws.

“I felt like if someone had a hidden pocket or something hidden, it would benefit us greatly to have that bag checked a little bit more thoroughly,” he said.

Gallagher said he has dealt with false positive alarms and conflicted staff.

“I used to come here early in the morning from basketball practice, and I remember nobody would be here until like 5:30 in the morning, and I was like, this still gives someone a chance to be in their house. Put something in their bag or hide something,” he said. “The guards also left like 2:00 a.m., and so after school, it was like I didn't feel safe.”

The Evolv AI weapons detection tower is located at Hunter High School. (Photo: (Shelby Lofton, KSL-TV)

Horsley said that during the pilot program, security guards are only around during school hours.

“The goal would be to have such a system for 12 to 15 hours a day,” he said.

He noted that the system is not in place to prevent an active shooter situation.

“It's meant to address a component or a layer of security that we need like we need in our schools here in the Granite School District,” Horsley said.

He pointed out that adults are not required to use the weapon detection system at after-school events, such as sports games and performances.

“State law allows adults, concealed carry permit holders and others to bring weapons onto campus,” Horsley said. “So if and when adults pass it, they don't need to be screened.”

The district has not yet decided whether it will adopt the system after the pilot program ends.

“We went before the Legislature in 2023 and asked for $12 million to address many of these components and help pay for a system like this,” Horsley said. There are officials to run.” . “The systems themselves can be relatively inexpensive.”

Gallagher said, if the detection system remains in place, he would like to see some adjustments.

“It's hard because I don't want to come to school like airport security every day, but I appreciate being safe at school,” she said.

Zero Eyes

Other schools across the state are testing a different system called ZeroEyes.

ZeroEyes uses AI software built into schools' existing cameras to detect a potential weapon. Veterans and members of law enforcement at 24-hour monitoring centers in Hawaii and Pennsylvania confirm whether the threat is real.

“Once these experts confirm that a gun has been identified, they send out alerts and provide actionable intelligence, including a visual description, the type of gun and the shooter's last known location, to local personnel. And three to five seconds from detection to law enforcement,” said a ZeroEyes spokesperson.

A company spokesperson told KSL that pricing ranges from $20 to $50 per camera stream per month, depending on variables such as camera count, contract term, infrastructure and network.

ZeroEyes promotional video showcasing its software. (Photo: Zero Eyes)

Horsley said the Granite School District chose not to use Zero Eyes because its purpose is different from Evolv.

“Zero Eyes is dealing with a security threat when a weapon is already on campus and where there is an active shooter situation,” he said. “We see that when weapons are brought onto campus, students are not taking those weapons out and marking them. They are displaying those weapons in bathrooms where there are no cameras.”

As part of legislation addressing school safety requirements, the Utah Legislature enabled the Utah State Board of Education to award a $3 million contract to Zero Eyes and another solution, the AEGIX AIM app. AIM stands for Active Incident Management. The systems will be implemented in some Utah schools by June 2025.

Interested districts complete a school safety assessment, and then apply for government funding to cover the cost through a competitive grant process.

Aegix AIM

If ZeroEyes experts confirm a threat, an alert is sent to the Aegix AIM app, which can be downloaded to any mobile device, said Chet Linton, CEO of Aegix Global. Individual schools decide who has access to the app.

“If something happens or if someone sees something, they pull out their device, click on their phone, choose the type of alert and send it out, and that alert goes out into the building,” Linton said. Notifies everyone present,” Linton said.

Alerts are also sent to first responders and dispatchers.

In one second, faculty and staff are asked to answer where they are located. A live chat and map is sent to them and first responders, helping them to quickly direct them to the danger.

“If there's an active shooter, the only recourse is for responders or law enforcement, usually a SWAT team to find people by shooting or yelling,” Linton said. “It's mind-boggling. It's terrible for me as a grandfather and as a parent that we do it this way.”

Live maps help first responders know which locations are safe and if someone needs medical attention, he said.

Aegix Global CEO Chet Linton shows KSL TV's Shelby Lofton a live map that first responders can view through the company's security app. (Photo: Raymond Boone, KSL-TV)

“Privacy is always a concern,” Linton said. “With our specific application, the only time people's locations are identified is in the middle of an event.”

Linton told KSL that the Aegix AIM is currently used in about 400 schools across the U.S., including Spanish Fork High School, where he said it made a difference during an emergency last year.

School staff prepared for the worst, when calls reporting an active shooter came in in March 2023. Teacher Andy Hunsaker told KSL that he was able to manage the situation with his students with the help of the Aegix AIM app, which alerted him to this fact. The campus was on lockdown and there was a threat from inside.

“We have guidance that gives teachers a reminder of things like, 'What do I do in my classroom?'” Linton said. “It has to work when people are full of adrenaline, scared to death and don't know what else to do. Big, simple buttons and guidance that gets them through it.”

Lana Huskey, a former spokeswoman for the Nebo School District, said she credited the app for quick communication and direction during the lockdown.

“Our principal, he went ahead and hit the alert button, and he alerted every one of our staff that there was an incident and to go into lockdown,” Huskey said.

Fortunately, this threat was a hoax.

Linton said the app has been able to stop shooters in a number of cases.

App prices start at about $2,000 per school per year and increase depending on services and integrations, an AEGIX spokesperson said.

Rhett Larsen, school safety specialist for the Utah State Board of Education, told KSL that the grant covering the firearm detection software was a one-time opportunity. If schools want to keep ZeroEyes and Aegix AIM beyond 30 June 2025, they will have to pay for it themselves.

“Local education agencies that want to maintain these services will have to pay for it in other ways,” he said.

Head of state security on security technology

State leaders said protective technology is not 100% effective in a real emergency without uniform training.

“I would say technology is kind of an efficiency enhancer for security,” said newly appointed State Security Chief Matt Pennington. “There are some basic things that have to happen.”

Pennington's position with the Department of Public Safety was created through school safety requirements from the 2023 legislation. He previously worked for several years in the South Jordan Police Department.

Asked if Utah schools are equipped to deal with security threats, Pennington said it varies.

“I would say some are better than others, for sure,” Pennington said.

He said schools need to get down to basic practices, regardless of the technology they choose. Its focus is to standardize school safety across the state.

“The hope would be if we get the whole state on the same page so that, if you move from Logan to St. George, it's not a different environment or a different experience,” Pennington said.

Schools are using different terms for emergencies, or training at different intervals, Pennington said.

As he travels up and down the state, working with communities to improve their emergency plans, he and others hope technology can keep students safe in an ever-evolving world. Is.

“I think there are a lot of different factors, not just shootings or violent intrusions, but everything from bullying to social media that kids are exposed to in this day and age,” Pennington said.

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