Face recognition is now being used in schools, but it won’t stop mass shootings


OFFICIALS AT THE Lockport, New York, school district have purchased face recognition technology as part of a purported effort to prevent school shootings. Starting in September, all 10 of Lockport District’s school buildings, just north of Buffalo, will be outfitted with a surveillance system that can identify faces and objects. The software, known as Aegis, was developed by SN Technologies Corp., a Canadian biometrics firm that specifically advertises to schools. It can be used to alert officials to whenever sex offenders, suspended students, fired employees, suspected gang members, or anyone else placed on a school’s “blacklist” enters the premises. Aegis also sends alerts any time one of the “top 10” most popular guns used in school shootings appears in view of a camera.

The district is spending most of its recent $4 million state “Smart School” grant on these and other enhancements to its security systems, including bullet-proof greeter windows and a mass notification system, according to the Niagra Gazette. “We always have to be on our guard. We can’t let our guard down,” Lockport Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley told the Buffalo News. “For the Board of Education and the Lockport City School District, this is the No. 1 priority: school security.”

Yet given the nature of gun violence at schools, Lockport’s purchase of surveillance technology appears inefficient and expensive. All of the major school shootings in the last five years in the U.S. have been carried out by current students or alumnae of the school in question. “These are students for whom the school wouldn’t have a reason to have their face entered into the face recognition system’s blacklist,” explained Rachel Levinson-Waldman, a security and policing expert at the Brennan Center for Justice.

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