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New AI-Powered Security Aims to Make WPHS A Safer Place  


By Eva Mandelbaum 

It is no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over the world. From chatbots to facial recognition on your iPhone, it is truly everywhere. But it may be even more ubiquitous than you realize, as AI is often invisible.  


One example of this invisible technology is a recent development at White Plains High School: AI technology that can detect the presence of a firearm. ZeroEyes, which was founded by former Navy SEALs in 2018, is the company behind this. According to their website, ZeroEyes “delivers a proactive, human-verified visual gun detection and situational awareness solution that integrates into existing digital security cameras to stop mass shootings and gun-related violence.” 


Dr. Ricca decided it was important for the White Plains School District to invest in this technology following an incident at a neighboring school with a firearm involved. “I had a renewed imperative to research all of the technologies that existed at that point in time,” he explained. 


Unfortunately, this firearm incident was not an anomaly in America. Gun violence has plagued the U.S. for decades, and its prevalence has continued to increase in recent years. According to Pew Research Center, about 81 percent of U.S. murders involved a firearm in 2021. According to sandyhookpromise.org, since Columbine in 1999, more than 338,000 students in the U.S. have experienced gun violence at school, and there were more school shootings in 2022 than in any year since Columbine. This reality leaves many students scared to go to school.  


Senior Gianna Priore said, “As someone who watches the news, I find it scary that this could happen at my own high school and that this could be something that affects my friends, my teachers, myself, and also our families. It is something that is on people’s minds, not just my own.” Another senior who chose to remain anonymous added that she always notices exits when she is at school. “When I go into a room, I feel like I know how to get out,” she said. 


It is technology like ZeroEyes that ignites hope. The technology runs in the background of all district cameras, and it can distinguish real guns from fake. If it detects a real firearm, the technology quickly triggers a notification with the identification and location of the individual to a campus control center available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

“The thing about technology that we have that’s really unique is that it’s a human being that is going to be looking at any potential identified hits...in this system and then making the call,” Dr. Ricca explained. “So yes, you have technology interfacing with human decision making which when you look at the research gives you sort of the redundancy you would need: you have the artificial intelligence identify it, but then you have a human saying yes, that’s what that is.” 

 

While other school districts in the country turn to other methods of firearm prevention (Santa Fe High School even has a robot for this purpose), Dr. Ricca felt that a background system was the best option for White Plains. “In considering the types of technologies that we’re going to put in our schools, you want them to be practical, but you also don’t want them to be a nuisance or changing the climate and culture of your school facilities,” he said. “So when I came upon ZeroEyes...it seemed to be really interesting because it exists without us knowing...it’s not something you see, and it also provides us with a unique capability that other systems don’t.” 


Dr. Ricca emphasized that his main priority is the safety of the White Plains community. “While none of us ever wants to feel like we need to have more considerations about safety, I think that we’re not in control of that and we have to navigate the world as it is, not as we wish it could be,” he explained. “Keeping each other safe is ultimately the strength of the White Plains City School District. We need to support and look out for each other as a community. We’ve done that and I’m very proud in so many different ways.” 

 


Photo credit: The Examiner News

 

 

 

 

 

 

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