Gun violence in schools has become an epidemic in the United States, with 93 shootings resulting in casualties during the 2020-2021 school year alone. As of October, there have already been 38 shootings with casualties in 2022. School administrators are looking for better ways to secure their campuses and keep students safe.
Today’s school security systems have come a long way since the early days of metal detectors. Newer technologies, like A.I. gun detection, are more accurate and easier to use. But which is best for your school district?
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both metal detectors and visual A.I. gun detection, so that superintendents and administration can make an informed decision about which technology is best for their school district.
The Purpose of School Security Systems
The need for stronger school security solutions has never been greater. In 2021, K-12 schools and school districts recorded 249 times a gun was fired on campus—the most since 1970.
The purpose of school security systems is to make it more difficult for someone to bring a gun onto campus, and to provide law enforcement with the information and tools they need to respond quickly in the event of an active shooter or other school violence.
To prevent gun-related violence, metal detectors and visual A.I. gun detection are two popular options to include in a school security system. Let’s take a closer look at each of these security solutions.
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Metal Detectors 101
Metal detectors are perhaps the most well-known type of school security system. They work by detecting the presence of metal objects, which can include firearms.
Most metal detectors used in schools are walk-through detectors, which students pass through one at a time at the entrance of school buildings. They can also be hand-held devices that school personnel use to scan individual students.
- Detects the presence of metal objects, including firearms
- Most are walk-through detectors, which students pass through one at a time
- Some are hand-held devices that school personnel use to scan individual students
The cost of a metal detector can vary depending on the type, size, and features you choose. A good quality walk-through metal detector starts at around $4,000, while a hand-held device starts at around $200 (not including the staff you have to pay to use them).
Pros of Metal Detectors
- Metal detectors are a well-known and understood technology
- They can be an effective deterrent to would-be shooters
Cons of Metal Detectors
- Metal detectors can be costly, both in terms of the initial purchase price and ongoing maintenance costs
- They can be time-consuming to use, especially if you have a large number of students
- Some students may view them as an invasion of their privacy
- Accuracy rates can be low because metal detectors cannot distinguish between guns and other benign metal objects
Metal Detector Security Challenges
Traditional metal detectors that are used for detecting concealed weapons have posed many problems in the school environment. Their primary challenge is how long it takes for each screening. Students risk being late to class and causing a disruption if the line for screening is too long. Additionally, visitor management adds additional screening time to each day.
Another challenge with metal detectors is that they can give false positives, which can lead to unnecessary searches and delays. This can be a major inconvenience for students, and it takes away from time that could be spent learning. Traditional metal detectors can’t differentiate between metal objects like keys and dangerous weapons. Because of this, each occurrence of the detector going off requires a manual pat-down search, which can be time-consuming and invasive.
Metal detectors aren’t equipped with any form of a video surveillance system. This means that if a gun were to be brought into the school, there would be no video footage to review and identify the shooter. Additionally, there is no data to collect on analytics involving alarm rates. Without this critical intel, school security teams can’t manage risks and may react slower to threats when they do happen.
Finally, some students feel that metal detectors are an invasion of their privacy. This is particularly true for students of color, who may feel that they are being targeted by law enforcement. Seeing a metal detector at the entrance of a school is unwelcoming and can give off a negative vibe to the community and students within the school district.
Visual A.I. Gun Detection 101
Visual A.I. (artificial intelligence) gun detection is a newer technology that is becoming more popular in school security systems. In most cases, the software is installed on existing surveillance cameras on school grounds, and they use artificial intelligence to detect the presence of firearms.
When a gun is detected, the system sends an alert to law enforcement and school administrators, so that they can take appropriate action.
- A.I.-enabled cameras are installed around the school
- Uses artificial intelligence to detect the presence of firearms
- Verification of gun presence is conducted by a real person in real-time
- Sends an alert to law enforcement and school administrators when a gun is detected
The cost of a visual A.I. gun detection system varies depending on the number of cameras you need and the vendor you choose. See our cost comparison chart below for more details about what you can expect to spend.
Pros of Visual A.I. Gun Detection
- Visual A.I. gun detection is a newer technology that is becoming more popular in school security systems
- Can be installed with existing school security system cameras through a remote installation process
- The system can send an alert to law enforcement and school administrators when a gun is detected so that they can take appropriate action
- Non-invasive privacy protection
Cons of Visual A.I. Gun Detection
- Some people may be skeptical of the technology and how it works
- Requires ongoing subscription cost
The Opportunity With Visual A.I. Gun Detection Technology
These systems are dramatically faster than metal detectors. That’s because this type of technology works proactively by searching for guns 24/7/365 and detects threats without a manual line at the entrance.
Additionally, enabling your school security system with this type of technology enables security staff and other staff members to approach safety with a more hands-off approach. Spending less time manually screening students frees up time and energy for security personnel to address more pressing issues and respond quickly in the event of an actual threat.
One of the biggest advantages of adding visual A.I. gun detection technology to your school security system is its non-threatening appearance. Schools that have this type of security system in place don’t need to add any additional hardware, like metal detectors. This can help create a more positive and welcoming environment for students and staff alike.
The data collected by these systems can also be used to improve school safety in the long run. By understanding gun detection rates and patterns, schools can make changes to their policies and procedures to help prevent future shootings from happening.
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Making the Decision Between Metal Detectors and Visual A.I. Gun Detection
When deciding whether to use metal detectors or visual A.I. gun detection in your school security system, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider. These include cost, accuracy, time for implementation, and privacy rights.
One of the key considerations when deciding between metal detectors and visual A.I. gun detection is student privacy rights. Metal detectors are generally considered to be more invasive, as they require students to pass through them one at a time and can be used to scan their bodies for weapons.
Visual A.I. gun detection, on the other hand, uses cameras that are installed around the school and does not require students to be scanned in any way. This makes it a more non-invasive option for school security. ZeroEyes’ A.I. also never uses facial recognition, audio recording, or other invasive technologies. Our algorithm detects guns and nothing else.
Another important factor to consider is accuracy. Metal detectors can be very accurate, but they are also affected by outside factors such as weather and metal objects that are not guns. This means that there can be false positives with metal detectors, which leads to disruption in the school day.
Visual A.I. gun detection is also affected by outside factors, but its artificial intelligence allows it to be more accurate than metal detectors. This means that there are fewer false positives with visual A.I. gun detection, and it is more likely to detect a gun when one is present.
In the event of a school shooting, it’s important to have a security system in place that can quickly alert law enforcement and school administrators. Metal detectors are not fool-proof and can be bypassed, and do not provide any protection or assistance once a shooting begins.
Visual A.I. gun detection systems are constantly searching for illegally brandished guns and immediately send an alert to law enforcement and school administrators if a gun is detected. This quick response time can help save lives in the event of a school shooting and improve overall school security measures.
With ZeroEyes technology, if a weapon is detected, the security image, stamped with the time and location, is reviewed by a trained military veteran to verify if the object detected is a gun. If it is, ZeroEyes will immediately issue an alert to local authorities and campus security, providing a description and location of the threat—often before any shots are fired.
Another important factor to consider is cost. Metal detectors can be costly, both in terms of the initial purchase price and ongoing maintenance costs. Visual A.I. gun detection systems can also be costly, but their costs are typically much lower than metal detectors making them a more cost-effective choice.
ZeroEye’s A.I. Gun Detection Is a Cost-Effective Solution
Time for Implementation
The time it takes to implement a security system is also an important consideration. Metal detectors can be time-consuming to install and use, especially if you have a large number of students. Each metal detector requires at least one staff member to run them and they can only scan one person at a time.
A.I. gun detection systems can be up and running more quickly, as they can be installed in existing security camera systems. At ZeroEyes, most schools can get visual A.I. gun detection software up and running within 1-4 days, depending on the number of cameras.
A.I. Gun Detection With ZeroEyes
At ZeroEyes, we offer a state-of-the-art visual A.I. gun detection system that is designed to work with your existing digital school security cameras and bring peace of mind to education security. Our system can be up and running in a matter of days and is more accurate than metal detectors. It also offers privacy protection for students, as it does not require them to be scanned in any way. We believe in being a school resource for all educational institutions to ensure the learning environment is never disrupted by the dangers of gun-related violence.
An effective school security strategy includes multiple layers. Download our guide to learn how proactive A.I. visual gun detection technology is critical in developing a strong multi-layered security plan.