The use of facial recognition technology by schools to prevent violent incidents is stirring debate, with some saying emotion-detecting and facial recognition tech infringes on student privacy, eSchool News reports.
Schools in Florida’s Broward County are among those experimenting with surveillance systems that track people based on their appearances as a way to protect students and prevent shootings like the one that occurred last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
- RealNetworks is also making its SAFR artificial intelligence and machine learning-based facial recognition solution free to all K-12 schools.
The rising number of school shootings has put student safety on center stage. Administrators, teachers and parents all want to keep students safe. This technology can be used as a tool in that fight, but the use of facial recognition includes many controversies. The American Civil Liberties Union recently called such systems invasive and error-prone. These systems are also accused of being inaccurate and falsely identifying minorities.
In addition, there are questions as to how this technology can actually prevent violent attacks. Many of the attacks on schools have been by students who would have been allowed into the school in the first place, negating the effect of facial recognition. In addition, even if a surveillance system had detected Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nicolas Cruz as soon as he entered the building, there would have only been 120 seconds to react before he started shooting.
The Washington Post reports that some surveillance firms are saying very little about how the software is designed, tested and safeguarded, claiming proprietary information, in addition to playing down privacy concerns. Meanwhile, privacy advocates believe these companies are praying on the fear of parents and educators.
A Pew Research Center found that 57% of teens and 63% of parents worry about a school shooting. And the technology industry sees much opportunity in the $2.7 billion spent each year on school security.
The use of facial recognition may prove helpful as one tool to prevent school shootings, but it should be used in tandem with other warning systems that ultimately work to achieve prevention.