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OmnilertFeb 28, 2024 11:13:59 AM9 min read

Intel, Omnilert and Axis Discuss the Future of School Safety Tech

ZeroNow Webinar Explores the Next Frontier in Securing Educational Environments 

Technology visionaries and industry leaders came together in a recent ZeroNow webinar to discuss the future of school safety technology and examine some of the innovative technologies currently available for keeping our students and staff safe.  And top of mind was AI-powered gun detection and response platforms.

The webinar was hosted by Ara Bagdasarian, Founder of ZeroNow and Co-founder of Omnilert.  Panel speakers included Kasia Hanson, Intel’s Global Sr. Director, Physical and Cybersecurity Ecosystems, Nick Gustavsson, CTO and Co-Founder of Omnilert, and Scott Dunn, Sr. Director Business Development-Industry Relations for Axis Communications. Highlighting some of the newest innovations in AI, machine learning, computer vision and advanced analytics, the speakers looked at how these technologies are enabling unprecedented capabilities when it comes to securing educational campuses and keeping students and staff safe from potential threats.  Below are key highlights from their discussion.  

The Evolving Role of Artificial Intelligence

A poll taken at the start of the webinar revealed that 56% of attendees believed artificial intelligence currently shows the most promise to transform school safety in the years ahead. The potential applications in threat detection, identity verification and vulnerability assessment are immense. This includes technologies such as Omnilert Gun Detect, which can – in a matter of seconds - identify gun threats, verify detections and initiate a series of automated responses such as lock doors, notify police and send alerts.

As Intel's Kasia Hanson explained, AI should not be viewed as a trend or niche capability as it is becoming embedded into nearly aspect of daily life. On one end, AI is helping advance learning in the classroom through customized education platforms and chatbots that serve as virtual teaching assistants. On the other, it is serving as an invaluable tool for security purposes by continually assessing vulnerabilities, identifying potential threats based on behavior and recommending corrective actions to fill gaps.

Hanson noted that while AI will never be perfect, at least in the short term, it will continue to get smarter, faster and more accurate over time through ongoing algorithm training and edge processing improvements. It is not a matter of “if,” but “when” organizations choose to thoughtfully implement and utilize AI technology based on their unique needs and risk tolerance.

The Power of Computer Vision

Omnilert’s  Nick Gustavsson showcased how Omnilert Gun Detect leverages existing camera networks to do "double duty" by leveraging computer vision and AI to transform legacy surveillance infrastructure into an intelligent security solution. By continuously monitoring and analyzing video feeds in real-time, these latest innovations allow for automated detection of firearms that endanger student safety.

Gustavsson stressed the importance of finding the optimal balance between edge compute capabilities on devices such as cameras versus more centralized processing power in private clouds or on-premise servers. Edge devices now have the ability to run advanced machine learning algorithms to identify objects and events of interest. But centralized capacity is still needed for storage, video management and more extensive investigation. That is why Omnilert provides its customers with a complete solution that includes the AI gun detection software and all the hardware needed to provide the required processing power.

Enabling Hybrid Environments

Scott Dunn of Axis Communications echoed this sentiment around striking the right hybrid approach between edge and cloud. Transferring raw video places immense strain on networks and drives up operational costs. Instead, cameras should pre-process data and only send targeted metadata for relevant events upstream. This breakthrough significantly enhances efficiency while also protecting sensitive footage.

The Intersection of Safety and Privacy

With innovation inevitably comes new challenges. Multiple panelists touched on the ethical application of technology such as facial recognition in schools, especially given the sensitive nature of student data.

Gustavsson drew an important distinction between solutions that attempt to discern human intent versus solutions that solely focus on detecting dangerous inanimate objects that should never be on a campus, like firearms. This helps sidestep privacy concerns by only raising alerts based on the presence of the weapon itself rather than personally identifiable details.  As an example, Omnilert Gun Detect, which uses AI to analyzes video feeds 24/7 can identify weapons in a fraction of a second.  This software is integrated into existing cameras both inside and outside schools but does not perform any facial recognition on subjects being monitored and the video feeds never leave the school premises.

Meanwhile, Dunn overviewed built-in masking capabilities that essentially black out individual identities until there is a legitimate need to unmask. Even then, stringent processes and permissions are required to reveal that information to properly balance privacy and safety.

Using Analysis to Get Started 

Bagdasarian acknowledged that school administrators are often overwhelmed by both existing day-to-day responsibilities and the learning curve required to stay updated on security technology advancements that can enhance protection.

To help districts just getting started, Hanson advocated conducting thorough risk and gap analyses to pinpoint vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. These assessments can subsequently support funding requests by clearly outlining the problems and presenting solution options aligned to available state and federal grant programs.

Moving from Strategy to Tactics

Once vulnerability evaluations set the foundation, organizations can shift to tactical execution by assembling multidisciplinary teams encompassing IT staff, facilities managers, school resource officers, local law enforcement and security technology specialists. Roles will vary, but having integrated expertise is vital.

Ongoing community engagement further supplements internal skill sets. Students, teachers and parents each contribute unique perspectives. Regular communication and transparency can establish trust and collective ownership for enhancing protective measures across stakeholder groups.

Looking Ahead

Near the close the webinar, Hanson s mentioned that the only constant in school security is change itself. Schools operate in a state of perpetual evolution. While individual solutions will come and go, proactively partnering with an ecosystem of providers creates flexibility to keep pace with innovation.

Collectively, technology partners united behind a common mission – together making schools safer for good – promote sustained innovation through collaboration and interoperability rather than proprietary models. This shared commitment to openness will ultimately drive widespread adoption of sophisticated platforms that save lives.

Tomorrow’s Schools Can Be Safer Through Tech

Below are some of the key takeaways from the webinar, which highlight what the industry needs to do to make new technologies as effective as possible:

  1. AI and computer vision represent tremendous opportunity to enhance threat detection and response.
  2. Finding the right balance between edge compute and centralized infrastructure enables scalability.
  3. Cross-sector collaboration focused on open systems spurs innovation and integration.
  4. Initial gap and risk analyses lay the groundwork for technology roadmaps and funding.
  5. Ongoing community engagement creates support for new solutions over time.

The call to action for schools across America is to start evaluating these technologies to find the solutions that work best for their individual schools and campuses.  And this needs to happen now!  2023 broke a record with 346 school shootings – the most in over four decades -  and this trend can turn in the other direction through the use of effective active shooter protection such as AI visual gun detection.


To learn more about Omnilert Gun Detect and how it provides schools with protection from active shooters and gun violence, reference these resources: