DESOTO — A new school security technology was spotlighted during a press conference at Golden Rule Charter Schools’ (GRCS) DeSoto campus on Friday.
Texas-based machine-learning startup 21st Century A|Eye partnered with GRCS to deploy its school security technology at the campus, which uses artificial intelligence to scan for guns using the school’s existing video surveillance infrastructure.
“It’s a forward-looking apolitically-pragmatic solution to overcoming school shootings,” said company co-founder Said Bilani.
He explained to an audience of students and administrators that the security system could detect firearms when they become visible on school security cameras. The system can then alert personnel and first responders of the danger as well as keep students and staff notified of a potential shooter’s location in real time through an app.
“We’re hoping the partnership … will help prevent that next tragedy from occurring in our school systems,” said Assistant Superintendent Ernie Amaton. “What I hope for and that I pray for is that [other] schools will soon follow Golden Rule Charter Schools as a beacon of implementing this technology and saving the lives of their kids as well.”
State Board of Education Member Julie Pickren (District 7) was also in attendance. She asked Bilani if the technology could be adapted to detect other kinds of weapons or e-cigarette vape pens. Bilani responded in the affirmative, noting that the company was working on such functionality.
“We can custom fit our programming to match your needs, whether it’s vapes, whether it’s knives … But right now, what we’re starting is with the root cause of tragedy in our country, that’s school shooters, and we wanted to do that with a common sense solution … that doesn’t infringe on Second Amendment rights,” Bilani said.
The Dallas Express asked Pickren how she became involved in GRCS’ adoption of the new security technology.
“[The founders] contacted me and asked if there was a school in Texas that I thought would be a good pilot school for this program,” said Pickren. “Because of all the wonderful things that Golden Rule Charter is doing, they were at the top of my list.”
She told The Dallas Express that 21st Century A|Eye donated their software to the DeSoto campus at no cost to GRCS and that her emotional investment in the partnership stems from her time as a trustee on the Alvin Independent School District’s school board. In 2018, just a few miles from Alvin, a school shooting at Santa Fe High School left 10 people dead.
“Anytime you develop something that can be a proactive instead of a reactive solution or preventative measure to a problem such as school shootings, anyone in state education or local education, from superintendents to elected officials, is most likely going to give you an ear to be able to show that you can help save lives in their district,” said company co-founder Brannon Castleberry, speaking with The Dallas Express.
GRCS is not the only school system in North Texas to turn to technology to better secure its campuses against potential school shooters. As previously reported in The Dallas Express, Pilot Point Independent School District recently deployed a new emergency evacuation system that can track a school shooter inside campus buildings and redirect students and staff away from the shooter’s location.
The Dallas Express asked Bilani if his company’s technology could scale up and be deployed at big school districts like the Dallas Independent School District, which has had a number of security incidents in recent years involving firearms.
“It all just depends on having [the right] servers and cameras,” he said.
Texas has a 32 billion surplus, don’t you think that could be used in all Texas School districts. Every child that attends School need this.
Are our children that important, I think they are!