Visual AI for School Safety

Tech Explainer

Vol. 7 No. 3 // 2023

Modified Image – Usa map outline with stars and lines abstract framework via Freepik

The Problem

Another school shooting has recently taken place in the United States, this time in Nashville, Tennessee. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In fact, school shootings have become all too common in the US, leaving parents, teachers, and students alike feeling scared and vulnerable.

The Nashville shooting, where 3 adults and 3 children lost their lives, is yet another tragic reminder that something must be done to address this pervasive problem. Texas, in particular, has faced a larger percentage of school shootings, including the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde that resulted in the deaths of 19 children and 2 teachers.

It’s time for action to prevent further tragedies like this one from occurring.

Inadequacy of traditional technology

Unfortunately, traditional technologies, such as security cameras and metal detectors, haven’t been able to keep schools safe. This happens for several reasons.

The main reason is that these technologies are often reactive rather than proactive. In other words, they are designed to detect and respond to a threat that has already occurred, rather than prevent it from happening in the first place. For instance, any gunshot detection system will only trigger an alarm once a shot has been fired and children and teachers are already under threat.

Second, traditional technology is limited in its ability to identify potential threats. While security cameras and metal detectors can detect weapons, they cannot detect other warning signs, such as familiar vs. unfamiliar faces and suspicious movement. Even in schools where security personnel are monitoring live data, the chance of missing something is non trivial. Studies have shown that humans struggle to focus for more than 20 minutes while viewing video feeds. The chances for error are compounded when these personnel are watching multiple screens at the same time. The human error inherently present in this situation makes it a non-ideal solution.

Third, traditional technology can create a false sense of security. While these technologies may deter some potential shooters, they can also be circumvented or avoided by determined individuals.

But technology is evolving everyday, and in the age of AI, preventive action is possible.

Image courtesy of SparkCognation

Visual AI Advisor

SparkCognition has developed a cutting-edge technology that can help deter and control school shootings: Visual AI Advisor.

Visual AI Advisor is a comprehensive threat detection system that uses AI-powered visual recognition to identify potential threats in real-time. The system can analyze video footage from security cameras, identify potential threats, and alert school officials in seconds. This technology has the potential to significantly reduce the response time of school shootings, giving officials the opportunity to intervene before a tragedy occurs.

Visual AI Advisor leverages a school’s existing CCTV system and runs models on the video feed in real time using deep learning algorithms to recognize patterns and anomalies in the environment, providing actionable insights and allowing instantaneous alerts and alarms. This solution is easily deployable within days with a no-code/low-code integration method that requires no data scientists or programmers.

There are several use cases that can be run simultaneously on a single camera increasing the chances of detecting a threat. Starting from an unknown license plate breaching a geographical perimeter to identifying an unknown face and even suspicious activity like a person crouching on the ground and not moving. For each of these cases, the Visual AI Advisor can trigger role-based alerts via web and mobile apps with critical information. The system can also tie into a school’s security system initiating lockdowns and security alarms.

The system can follow the progress of the threat from one camera to the next, keeping all actions under surveillance and security personnel apprised of the situation in real time. This is invaluable, as according to the FBI, 70-80% of the attacks are carried out by perpetrators with weapons visible or the shooter lurking in the carpark or a stairwell up to 30 minutes before the shooting. Identifying these shooters and triggering alarms in real time could very well neutralize the threat.

Visual AI Advisor has been trained for hundreds of use cases on vast amounts of data. With over 120 pre-built machine learning models to draw from and its proven ability to learn and react to complex multi-frame scenarios, this is truly a game changer for school safety. There is continuous delivery of updated models and learning to ensure performance improvement over time, eradicating false positives or negative alerts.

The graphic below showcases some of the use cases from the Visual AI Advisor that are deployed at schools to enhance safety.


There were more school shootings in 2022 than in any year since at least 1999.

According to a report by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, school shootings have been increasing in frequency and severity over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2020, there were 437 school shootings in the US, resulting in 242 deaths and 819 injuries. These statistics highlight the urgent need for innovative solutions to help save lives.

Visual AI Advisor has been successfully tested in various settings and has been deployed in both public and private K-12 school systems. The Director of Secondary Education at the Liberty Hill Independent School District in Central Texas says Visual AI Advisor doesn’t replace their staff or security protocol, instead it empowers them. “No matter how great all of us are, we’re all human beings. We get sick. We take a break. We turn around. The great thing about [Visual AI Advisor] is it never does that. It is always on, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no matter what the scenario.”

Visual AI Advisor has the potential to be a game-changer in the fight against school shootings. With its real-time threat detection capabilities and ease of deployment, the system can help school officials and law enforcement respond quickly and effectively to potential threats, providing peace of mind to students, parents, and teachers and creating a safe learning environment for everyone.

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