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Westside Community Schools eyes new AI tech to spot weapons on campus

Posted at 9:16 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 22:16:48-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Westside Community Schools plans to implement a program using AI technology as another preventative measure to keep their students and staff safe.

  • Through a state grant, Westside Community Schools was awarded $77,000
  • The district plans to use part of the funding on a technology called ZeroEyes
  • The technology can detect a gun visible on the school cameras in seconds
  • Watch the video to see how this technology would work.

"There is a little bit of fear because unfortunately, that is the reality of our world today.”

That’s how Jourdan Lidonde a district employee and a mom of 4 Westside students described conversations she's had with her kids following lockdown drills.

She described the security measures in place at her kids’ schools and is okay with it.

"If it is noninvasive, it doesn't disrupt the flow of the day you know I am all for it," Lidonde said.

Westside High School principal Jay Dostal says safety and security is something he thinks about daily.

"I know that at any given time, something could happen and we need to be able to have the processes and procedures in place to react accordingly," Dostal said.

Westside Community was awarded $77,000 from a state safety and security grant, part of it will go toward a technology called ZeroEyes.

"We just looked at these things happening again and again, and we said we could do something, we could be proactive rather than reactive," said Rob Huberty, chief operating officer for ZeroEyes.

It was created after the Parkland shooting in Florida.

AI technology monitors the school's existing cameras, if it detects a gun, it sends an alert to their operation center. From there, a real person examines the image and in a matter of seconds a school resource officer and law enforcement can be alerted.

"It is kind of like our invisible partner in school safety and security and that's what we are kind of excited about," Dostal said.

For Lidonde it adds another level of comfort as a parent.

"Knowing that you know, not only the staff and the teachers at school are helping keep our kiddos safe but they also have another level of support," Lidonde said.

The district and the company are still in contract talks so installation isn't scheduled yet. But the goal is to place it in every Westside school.

The funding will also be used for a program that is already in place called Gaggle which is a technology that monitors emails and Google Drive accounts on school devices, for keywords that might signal a mental health crisis.