MONROEVILLE, Pa. — Between metal detectors and a school police force with more than a dozen officers, the Gateway School District spares little expense to keep its students and staff safe. Now, they're taking it to the next level.
"We are eventually going to have their artificial intelligence be able to detect whether kids are loitering, whether there's a fight happening or a panic situation," Gateway High School Principal Justin Stephans said.
The district is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University-based tech company Cognistix to create a new type of security system which uses artificial intelligence to identify potential threats.
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The program is in its early stages of development and will utilize the 150 cameras already operating in Gateway High School.
"Is the idea that everything is pretty much covered?" asked Channel 11 News reporter Aaron Martin.
"Yes," Gateway's director of technology, Michael Brown, said. "In addition to just seeing an area on the camera, we want to make sure that we see it in enough details that you can identify what's happening."
Brown said the district is already well-protected with cameras that cover almost every inch of the high school.
"We'll look at multiple cameras to figure out what's going on," Brown said. "When we send an alert, it will keep watching to see it as it evolves."
Once the new artificial intelligence system is developed and installed, it will use those same cameras to quickly identify a threat. In an active shooter situation, the artificial intelligence will alert staff to which classrooms should be on lockdown and which should be evacuated.
Stephans expects the first part of the artificial intelligence system to be in place by the end of the school year. He said the second part is a year or two away and it will take security one step further.
"They'll be able to detect weapons, facial recognition of people who might be allowed in the school or shouldn't be in the school," Stephans said. "That is down the road."
The move comes as more and more school districts are investing in security. State lawmakers have set aside around $100 million over the last two years for school security.