In an April 25th announcement, ZeroEyes, creators of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based gun detection software, announced that the Hernando County School District has significantly expanded the deployment of its proactive platform. The software solution layers AI technology over the top of existing security cameras.
The ZeroEyes solution automatically detects a brandished firearm and alerts an operator in one of ZeroEyes’ monitoring centers. Once the threat is verified by specially trained personnel, an alert is sent to key school safety personnel and local law enforcement. An alert can be confirmed and sent within 3-5 seconds of detection, according to the company. In addition to generating the alert, the software will continue to update information, providing key school personnel and law enforcement with real-time situational updates, which are critical to containing a threat.
According to the company, ZeroEyes AI only detects guns. It does not perform any facial recognition, so there is no risk of bias based on skin color or other personal characteristics. The company only receives images from school cameras when a gun has been detected. At all other times, the company’s monitoring screens remain blank.
The school district first deployed Zero Eyes software on a limited basis one year ago. “In active shooting drills conducted over the past year, ZeroEyes has demonstrated that it significantly reduces response times, which is critical for saving lives,” said Jill D. Renihan, Director of Safe Schools, Hernando County School Board. “As gun-related incidents continue across the nation, we feel strongly that the entire district can benefit from this proactive solution.” The Hernando County School District is composed of 10 elementary, three K-8, four middle, and five high schools, as well as three charter schools, one alternative school, and three technical/adult education centers. It serves more than 24,000 students and employs approximately 3,100 staff members.
The latest deployment of the technology covers more than 10 additional district facilities beyond those covered in the initial deployment last year. A school district spokesperson declined to comment on the total number of HCSD facilities that have now implemented the technology but stated that another round of expansion is forthcoming.
The ZeroEyes expansion was approved at the Feb. 14, 2023, regular school board meeting, authorizing the purchase not to exceed $250,000.00 annually contingent on Safety Grant funding or Millage funding. During that approval process, school board member Mark Johnson expressed concern over the sole source contract with ZeroEyes as he said that there is at least one other company that provides a similar service. He said in the future; he would not be willing to approve something like this on a sole-source contract. Another concern expressed by Johnson was where the funding would actually come from since the funding source was listed as Safety Grant funding or Millage funding.