Schools adopt artificial intelligence technology to detect guns while businesses lobby policymakers for state funding

Kansas is taking steps to enhance school safety by potentially offering up to $5 million in grants for schools to install surveillance cameras equipped with artificial intelligence systems capable of detecting individuals carrying guns. However, for schools to qualify for these grants, several specific criteria must be met.

The AI software must be patented, designated as qualified anti-terrorism technology, compliant with certain security industry standards, in use in at least 30 states, and capable of detecting various firearm classifications and subclassifications. As of now, only one company, ZeroEyes, meets all of these requirements. ZeroEyes, founded by military veterans after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, uses AI technology to identify visible guns in real-time and alert designated personnel.

This legislation in Kansas is part of a growing trend across multiple states to prioritize school security in response to high-profile shootings. ZeroEyes has also been the only qualified firm for similar programs in states like Michigan, Utah, Florida, and Iowa. Missouri recently passed legislation offering grants for schools to purchase firearms detection software, with ZeroEyes being the primary beneficiary.

While the technology itself is widely accepted, some critics question the legislative tactics that potentially favor specific companies like ZeroEyes. Other companies, like Omnilert, also provide firearms detection technology but may not meet the stringent criteria set forth by the legislation. This has sparked a debate about fair competition and transparency in the allocation of state funds for school safety initiatives.

Despite the controversy surrounding the specific criteria, proponents of the legislation argue that the focus should be on student safety and the effectiveness of the technology in preventing gun violence. Kansas state Rep. Adam Thomas, who introduced the funding legislation, expressed optimism about the potential impact of ZeroEyes technology in schools. He believes that once the effectiveness of the system is demonstrated, more schools will adopt it.

Overall, the push for enhanced school security through advanced technologies like artificial intelligence highlights the ongoing efforts to protect students and staff from potential threats. While there may be disagreements on the methods and criteria for selecting technology providers, the ultimate goal remains the same: creating safe and secure learning environments for everyone.

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