Schools turn to artificial intelligence to spot guns as companies push for state funds

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

Topeka, Kan. (AP) – Kansas may soon offer up to $5 million in grants to schools to equip surveillance cameras with artificial intelligence systems that can spot people carrying guns. But the governor needs to approve the spending and the schools have to meet certain criteria.

AI software must be patented, “designated as a viable counterterrorism technology,” comply with certain security industry standards, already in use in at least 30 states and “at least 300 Three broad firearm classifications” with sub-classifications should be detectable. “At least 2,000 changes,” among other things.

Only one company currently meets all of those criteria: the same organization that told Kansas lawmakers preparing the state budget. That company, ZeroEyes, is a fast-growing firm founded by military veterans after a fatal attack. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School In Florida

Legislation Two items pending before Kansas Governor Laura Kelly were highlighted. after the Several high-profile firings, school security has become a multi-billion dollar industry. And in state capitals, some companies are successfully persuading policymakers to write their specific corporate solutions into state law.

ZeroEyes also appears to be the only firm that qualifies for state firearms detection programs that were implemented last year in Michigan and Utah, approved earlier this year in Florida and Iowa, and in Colorado, Louisiana, and Florida. And proposed legislation in Wisconsin.

On Friday, Missouri became the latest state to pass legislation designed for ZeroEyes, giving schools matching grants to purchase firearms detection software designated as “potential counterterrorism technology.” I offered $2.5 million.

“We're not paying legislators to write into their bills,” said Sam Alaimo, co-founder and chief revenue officer of ZeroEyes. But “if they're doing that, that means I think they're doing their homework, and they're making sure they're getting a tested technology.”

Rob Huberty, chief operating officer and co-founder of ZeroEyes, talks about using artificial intelligence with surveillance cameras to identify gun sightings in the company's green screen lab, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Conshohocken. Paw. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

ZeroEyes uses artificial intelligence with surveillance cameras to identify sighted guns, then flashes alerts to a 24-hour operations center staffed by former law enforcement officers and military veterans. If verified by ZeroEyes personnel as a legitimate threat, an alert is sent to school officials and local authorities.

The goal is to “get that gun before that trigger is squeezed, or that gun gets to the door,” Alamo said.

Some people question the technology. But some question the legislative strategy.

Charles' director of school safety and security, Jason Stoddard, said the highly specific Kansas bill — specifically the requirement that the company have its products in at least 30 states — is “probably the most serious thing that has ever happened.” I have ever read”. County Public Schools in Maryland.

ZeroEyes analysts monitor alerts at the company's operations center, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Conshohocken, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Stoddard is the chairperson of the newly launched National Council of School Safety Directors, which is designed to set standards for school safety officials and push back against vendors who are on the rise. Present specific products to legislators.

When states allocate millions of dollars to certain products, it often leaves less money for other critical school safety efforts, such as electronic door locks, breakable windows, communication systems and security personnel, he said.

Artificial intelligence-powered weapon detection is absolutely fantastic, Stoddard said. “But that's probably not the priority that 95% of schools in the United States need right now.”

The technology can also be expensive, which is why some states are establishing grant programs. In Florida, the total cost of legislation to implement ZeroEyes technology in schools in just two counties is $929,000.

ZeroEyes isn't the only company using surveillance systems with artificial intelligence to spot guns. A competitor, Omnilert, switched from emergency alert systems to firearms detection several years ago and also offers round-the-clock monitoring centers to quickly assess guns seized with AI and alert local authorities.

ZeroEyes analyst Mario Hernandez demonstrates the use of artificial intelligence with surveillance cameras to identify gun sightings at the company's operations center, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Conshohocken, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

But Omnilert does not yet have a patent for its technology. And it has not yet been designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a counterterrorism technology under a 2002 federal law that provides liability protection for companies. He has applied for both.

Although Omnilert is in hundreds of schools, its products are not in 30 states, said Mark Franken, Omnilert's vice president of marketing. But he said his company should not be disqualified from the state grant.

Franken has approached the Kansas governor's office in hopes of vetoing the specific standard, which he said would “create a kind of anti-competitive environment.”

In Iowa, legislation requiring schools to install firearm detection software was amended to require companies providing the technology to use it as a counterterrorism technology by July 1, 2025. Can get federal post. But state Rep. Ross Wilburn, a Democrat, said the designation was originally intended as an incentive for companies to develop the technology.

“It was not put in place to provide any kind of benefit to a particular company or any other company,” Wilburn said during the House debate.

Kansas House K-12 Education Budget Committee Chair Christy Williams, right, R-Augusta, with House Majority Leader Chris Craft, left, R-Overland, during a break during a day-long session Thursday at the State House in Topeka, Kan. Talking with Park. , April 4, 2024 (AP Photo/John Hanna)

In Kansas, ZeroEyes' chief strategy officer presented an overview of its technology to the House K-12 Education Budget Committee in February. It included a live demonstration of its AI gun detection and several real-world surveillance images of guns spotted in schools, parking lots and transit stations. The presentation also noted that authorities had directly arrested about a dozen people last year as a result of zero-eyes alerts.

Kansas State Representative Adam Thomas, a Republican, initially proposed naming Zero Eyes in the funding legislation. The final version removed the company's name but retained the quality that essentially limited it to ZeroEyes.

House K-12 Budget Committee Chair Christy Williams, a Republican, vigorously defended the provision. He argued during a negotiating meeting with senators that because of student safety, the state could not afford to delay the standard bidding process. He also described the company's technology as unique.

“We don't think there was any other alternative,” Williams said last month.

The $5 million appropriation won't cover every school, but Thomas said the amount could increase later when people see how well the ZeroEyes technology works.

“I hope it does exactly what we've seen it do and stop gun violence in schools,” Thomas told The Associated Press, “and we can get it to every school.”


The lab reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed from Des Moines, Iowa.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

Leave a Comment