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‘If we can prevent one shooting … ‘: School uses AI to detect threats

Updated December 16, 2022 - 1:13 pm

The private Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas is using an artificial intelligence system to detect school security threats.

The preschool-through-12th grade Jewish school is contracting with SparkCognition, an Austin, Texas-based company.

SparkCognition spokesman Stephen Gold told the Review-Journal the technology integrates with the school’s existing cameras to process information in real time.

“If we can prevent one shooting, one tragedy, I think this has done its job,” he said.

The Visual AI Advisor system enables “instantaneous alerts, alarms, and designated actions like initiating lock-down procedures,” according to a news release.

The Adelson School, which has about 715 students, is in the implementation phase of the project.

“At The Adelson School, the security and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount,” Chief of Security &Safety Todd Peters said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “When it comes to safety, we spare no expense and partner with the best.”

Peters said the school doesn’t share information about its specific safety policies or procedures. The school declined to provide additional information, including the cost of the system or the length of the contract with the company.

Oftentimes, school camera systems are storing data, and if something happens, schools review video to evaluate what happened, Gold said.

“The problem is that’s all done in retrospect,” he said. “It’s not in the moment.”

SparkCognition’s system for schools can be used for license plate and facial recognition to determine whether vehicles or people have been on campus before.

That in itself may not be something that requires action, Gold said, because that probably happens every day when people visit the school. But if the person pulls a weapon out, “at this point, you’d want to escalate.”

SparkCognition was founded in 2013 and announced within the last couple of months that it’s moving into the education sector, Gold said, noting that the Adelson Campus is among the early school adopters.

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, founders of the Adelson Educational Campus.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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