Is Facial Recognition the Key to Safer Schools?

There has been much debate over what is necessary to make our schools safer, with no fix-all solution at this time. As a parent, Rob Glaser decided to seek out his own solution because he wanted something more immediate and actionable. He developed a facial recognition tool that he believes will better monitor those entering schools. The tool, SAFR, is available on http://safr.ai for schools to download and integrate for free. This technology integrates with camera systems that the school would already need to have installed. SAFR has so far been integrated in a Seattle school where Glaser's children attend. Wyoming is also creating a pilot program for the technology.

Glaser says, "We feel like we're hitting something there can be a social consensus around: that using facial recognition technology to make schools safer is a good thing."

An obstacle that Glaser's technology will need to overcome before being widely implemented in schools is the negative stigma around facial recognition technology. Many believe that it is a privacy violation. While facial recognition technology can be misused, it also has the benefits of catching criminals, reuniting families, and in this case might even be the key to safer schools as it can recognize expelled students and people who simply shouldn't have access to the schools.

In response to concerns, Glaser said: "In my view, when you put tech in the market, the right thing to do is to figure out how to steer it in good directions. I personally agree you can overdo school surveillance. But I also agree that, in a country where there have been so many tragic incidents in schools, technology that makes it easier to keep schools safer is fundamentally a good thing."

How it works

SAFR allows preregistered users to automatically enter schools when they smile at the camera with this software installed. The software uses smiling to distinguish a live person from a photograph. Each person's face is logged by the software and is stored on local servers at the school. If a person is not registered with the software, they will be required to sign in with a receptionist to gain access into the school. This software can also predict a person's age and gender. SAFR scored a 99.8% accuracy rating on a test created by the University of Massachusetts to determine facial recognition accuracy.

This technology recognizes faces at varying degrees, distances and angles, faces that are partially obscured, painted faces, and can also recognize faces in varying lighting conditions.

Will this facial recognition tech be the key to safe schools? Only time will tell, but this technology appears to have a lot of potential.

For more, check out Mind-reading Tech has the Potential to Help Nonverbal People Communicate.