By, Maria DeBone
In Monroeville, Pennsylvania located 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh is a high school who’s taking major safety precautions to protect their students and staff.
“Our number one priority is keeping students and staff safe” says Gateway high school principal, Justin Stephens.
The high school is doing that by implementing locked doors, metal detectors, and security cameras. Every visitor must enter the building through the locked doors, and then have their driver’s license scanned by an officer.
Stephens has always made safety a top priority for the high school but focused more on it after 17 students and faculty members were killed last March at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland Florida in a school shooting. Stephens reached out to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who teamed up with CogXVision to create a virtual technology to keep schools safe.
“I think it’s very necessary unfortunately in high schools and not only high schools but even in synagogues, mosques and churches, temples and even any public places. Unfortunately, we live in a time where gun violence like you said has become very prevalent” says Sanjay Chopra, the co-founder of CogXvision.
Chopra says he saw what happened in Parkland Florida and decided something needed to be done. He created a technology that would be placed in already existing security cameras. It would be able to identify a shooter or incident much earlier or prevent it.
“So think about it instead of having people watching these security feeds on an ongoing basis, we have computer vision looking at them and saying hey this doesn’t look right. This person is carrying a gun where they shouldn’t be and then they notify the authorities” says Chopra.
Chopra says, “the best part of the technology is once we track an object like a gun or a person, we can then continue to track that person or object across several cameras”.
Gateway school police officer Steve Suranovich has worked in law enforcement for 19 years now and says that the technology has evolved a lot since he started. “The evolving technology is always advancing, giving us an upper edge for identifiers on suspects, solving crimes, investigations, it’s defiantly an advantage and I look forward to it”.
Suranovich said he is eager to get the process started with the new technology saying that, “it’ll give us the opportunity to identify any type of threat, assist it immediately, no time delay and be able to handle it accordingly”.
With the security cameras and metal detectors in place and the new CogXVision technology on the way, Superintendent for Gateway school district, Dr. William Short says his district is already ahead of surrounding schools in the area with taking safety precautions.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook to find out how did we establish this school resource that we have, how do we get the camera systems in place, metal detectors which are another venture that we’re going down not by any means of what’s going down in the schools, but it’s just the nature of where we’re at in society” says Short.
According to Vox.com, 135 people have been killed and 424 wounded from mass shootings in 20-19.
More recently in October of 2018, 11 people died at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the hands of a gunman. Chopra says that with this new technology, a tragedy like this could’ve been prevented. In the future he hopes to see the technology in all security cameras, not just in schools.
Gateway high school is the first school district in the world to be chosen for this technology. The high school will be the test run for it in the Fall of 20-19. Short hopes it’ll be placed in their middle school, junior high school, and four elementary schools in the future.
“It’s exciting on one hand but also sad knowing that schools have to go to these lengths in order to keep our kids safe” says Short.