Lockport schools turn to state-of-the-art technology to beef up security – the buffalo news from the trenches world reportfrom the trenches world report gas vs electric dryer

“We always have to be on our guard. We can’t let our guard down,” Lockport Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley said. “That’s the world that we’re living in. Times have changed. For the Board of Education and the Lockport City School District, this is the No. 1 priority: school security.”

The software is used by “Scotland Yard, Interpol, the Paris police and the French Ministry of Defense,” Olivo said. “There are a lot of facial recognition systems out there. There is nothing in the world that can do what this technology does.”

Lockport will spend $1.4 million of the state’s money on the Aegis system, from SN Technologies of Ganonoque, Ont., in all 10 district buildings this summer. It’s part of a $2.75 million security system that includes 300 digital video cameras.

But Jim Shultz, a Lockport parent, calls the upgrade a waste of money. And it won’t prevent a school shooting. He said the district would at best gain a few seconds in response time if a crazed killer rushed into a Lockport school with an AR-15.

What it can do is alert officials if someone whose photo has been programmed into the system – a registered sex offender, wanted criminal, non-custodial parent, expelled student or disgruntled former employee – comes into range of one of the 300 high-resolution digital cameras.

“A school is now a target, unfortunately,” said Robert L. LiPuma, Lockport’s technology director. “Based on recommendations, things we saw, drills we did, pilots we did, we assessed all of that and we thought this was the best option, economically and responsibly, for the safety of our community.”

At the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, the shooter was a mentally ill 20-year-old who shot his way through a locked entrance door before killing 20 children and employees. Police arrived five minutes after the killer entered. Failed recognition

In one of the most drastic examples, facial recognition software was tested last June on the crowd at a championship soccer game in Cardiff, Wales. The system triggered 2,470 alerts for matches with a police database – but 92 percent of the “matches” turned out to be false. The police blamed the poor quality of the photos in the database.

“Not to disclose any of the technical aspects of this system, but normal facial recognition that they’re talking about is based on mathematics. It’s based upon the distance between the eyes and the nose, the nose and the mouth, key points on a face. In order to get perfect facial recognition, you have to have that type of a look. The face, the lighting, it all has to be very specific,” Olivo said. “This (new) technology operates on a different platform with different algorithms that don’t necessarily need that specific key point in order to identify someone, or a weapon or something of that nature.”

“I don’t have a lot of experience with the facial recognition technology, so we’re relying on the manufacturer’s engineers to set our expectations,” said Matthew W. Crider, vice president of ECC Technologies, a Monroe County company that reviewed the system’s capabilities.

If there’s an alarm from Aegis, “It takes a human response, still, to respond to that,” LiPuma said. “There’s no security system or piece of technology that’s going to prevent something from happening. It’s just giving us more information and alerting us to issues.”

“If the district had the option of just taking the equivalent dollars and using it to hire security personnel, that might have been a very worthy consideration. The reality is, that wasn’t a funding option. That wasn’t on the table,” Crider said. Watching students

“If we had a student who committed some type of offense against the code of conduct, we can follow that student throughout the day to see maybe who they interacted with, where they were prior to the incident, where they went after the incident, so forensically we could also use the software in that capacity as well,” Rabey said.

“Tracking every move of students and teachers is not the best way to make them feel safe at school and can expose them to new risks, especially for students of color who are already over-policed in the classroom,” said John Curr, director of the Buffalo chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“Facial recognition software can be highly inaccurate, especially when it comes to identifying young people and people of color. This plan sets a dangerous precedent for constant surveillance of young people and risks exposing data collected about students and educators to misuse by outsiders or law enforcement,” Curr said. Conflict of interest?

“We don’t get commissions. We don’t own any part of SN Tech. We have no financial interest in SN Tech,” Olivo said. “SN Tech has partnered with us as their consultants to help them design and deploy this system in schools. For instance, we do reviews of camera designs and those types of things, and as such they pay us a consulting fee.”

“A lot of it goes back to Tony Olivo’s firm having over many years with the district proving himself to be a trusted adviser for the district and the board,” said Crider, the ECC Technologies vice president. “They’re taking his advice and his recommendation seriously.”

SN Technologies doesn’t have a contract with Lockport. SN is in effect a subcontractor with Ferguson Electric Construction Co., the local firm that beat out two others with the $3.3 million low bid for installing the system, said Deborah Coder, the Lockport district’s assistant superintendent for finance and management.