School district adds another layer of safety
Tue, 03/21/2023 - 11:04am caleb
ZeroEyes system uses school cameras to detect visible firearms and alert first responders
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Crawford AuSable School District last week implemented a new feature in its buildings in an effort to offer more security and provide another layer of safety for students and staff members.
According to school officials, the district tested and implemented ZeroEyes – technology that can detect a visible firearm through use of cameras in the school buildings and then alert first responders and school administrators – on Wednesday, March 15.
Superintendent Tim Sanchez said the Crawford AuSable School District tested the system on March 15 in the morning using fake firearms and the system went “live” during the afternoon at approximately 12:40 p.m. Superintendent Sanchez said there was a lot of “behind the scenes work” by the district’s tech department prior to the March 15 test to “get that up and rolling for us.”
Superintendent Sanchez said the district started the process of adding ZeroEyes in October of 2022 after discussion with Crawford County Sheriff Ryan Swope.
“(Sheriff Swope) called me early in the (school) year,” Superintendent Sanchez said. “I looked into it. As soon as you see a video on it, it makes complete sense.”
Superintendent Sanchez said the district applied for and received state safety funds to pay for ZeroEyes.
“This is a huge way to keep our kids safe,” Superintendent Sanchez said.
According to ZeroEyes, the process involves five steps: 1) “Analyze (for guns everywhere there’s a camera with 24/7/365 coverage”; 2) “Detect guns with actionable visual intel of location and description of perp”; 3) “Verify every alert through our human operators to prevent false alarms”; 4) “Alert security and first responders of the threat in as fast as 3-5 seconds”; 5) Respond to the threat with actionable intelligence such as perp location and description.”
“ZeroEyes’ technology will overlay the schools’ existing security cameras to detect when a firearm is brandished and dispatch alerts to first responders and local law enforcement as fast as three to five seconds from detection,” according to ZeroEyes.
Superintendent Sanchez said if a firearm were spotted by the system ZeroEyes alerts school administrators and law enforcement at the same time, including images and location. Superintendent Sanchez said if the location of the firearm changes, the system sends new alerts with updates.
Superintendent Sanchez said the ZeroEyes system is in all three buildings in the district (Grayling Elementary School, Grayling Middle School, and Grayling High School).
Superintendent Sanchez said some statistics show that firearms are “brandished for six or seven minutes before the first shot is fired” during active shooter events, and the quick alerts provided through the ZeroEyes system could help law enforcement to “secure the area and apprehend the suspect before anybody is injured.”
“With children’s lives at stake, there is no question that we must take every possible proactive step we can to keep our students and staff safe from active shooter threats,” Superintendent Sanchez said. “This is a close-knit community and my own children attend these schools, so this issue is near and dear to my heart.”
“The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and other first responders are very happy to have ZeroEyes implemented into the Crawford Ausable School District,” Sheriff Swope said. “This program is providing us the possibility to have the quickest response time to a situation where every second counts. The safety of the youth of our community is one of our main priorities and this program is another tool to making sure they are safe. We are grateful for all the time and effort everyone put in to make this possible.”
“ZeroEyes was founded by a group of former Navy SEALs and technologists that used hundreds of thousands of proprietary images and videos to train its A.I. to be the most comprehensive gun detection technology on the market,” according to the company. “Former U.S. military and law enforcement specialists verify every detection 24/7/365 from the in-house ZeroEyes Operations Center to deliver accurate and actionable intelligence on gun-related incidents, including the gunman’s appearance, clothing, weapon, and real-time location. They can also de-escalate police response by informing law enforcement if the weapon detected is an AirSoft, BB, or other type of non-lethal gun.”
Sanchez said the ZeroEyes system does not include facial recognition technology.
“ZeroEyes’ A.I. was trained to detect only guns; it does not perform any facial recognition. The system also does not receive, record, store, or share any personal or biometric data. The ZeroEyes Operations Center receives images only when a gun has been identified; at all other times, the monitoring screens remain blank,” according to ZeroEyes.
Superintendent Sanchez said not many schools in the state have implemented ZeroEyes so far, but he expects the number to increase. Sanchez said Oxford, a Michigan school that suffered through a mass shooting in November of 2021 (four dead, seven injured, according to multiple reports), was one of the first to add the technology.
Superintendent Sanchez said the Crawford AuSable School District added night locks and other security lockdown features last year and conducted safety training with staff during the start of the 2022-2023 school year. The district is expecting to receive the results of another safety audit this week and will use the input to further increase security, Sanchez said.