Next year, high schools in Lockport New York will use the “Aegis” CCTV and facial recognition system to track and record the interactions of students suspected of code of conduct violations, keeping a ledger of who speaks to whom, where, and for how long.
The record will be used to assemble evidence against students and identify possible accomplices to ascribe guilt to.
Lockport Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley justified the decision by noting, “We always have to be on our guard. We can’t let our guard down.”
Lockport will be the first school district in the world to subject its students to this kind of surveillance. The program will cost $1.4m in state money. The technology supplier is SN Technologies of Ganonoque, Ont., one of the companies in the vicinity of Kingston, Ontario, home to the majority of the province’s detention centers.
The Lockport district says that the system will make students safer by alerting officials if someone on a sex-offender registry or terrorist watchlist enters the property. None of America’s school shootings or high-profile serial sex abuse scandals were carried out by wanted terrorists or people on the sex-offender registry.
Deployed law-enforcement facial recognition systems have failure rates of 98%. The vendor responsible for Aegis would not disclose how they improved on the state of the art, but insisted that their product worked “99.97% of the time.” The spokesperson would not disclose any of the workings of the system, seemingly believing that doing so was antithetical to security.
The consultant who advised Lockport to spend $1.4m on the Aegis system, Tony Olivo, is listed as a “partner” of the vendor receiving the $1.4m in tax money; according to Lockport Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley, Olivo did not ask to be paid by the school district for this advice. Olivo says he also isn’t being paid a commission by the Aegis vendor. Olivo also consults for the nearby Depew school system, which is also committed to purchasing Aegis with tax money. Despite refusing to disclose any technical details about Aegis, Olivo said, “There is nothing in the world that can do what this technology does.”
Students’ photos won’t be uploaded into the system unless there’s a reason.
Lockport’s system has a 60-day video memory, Olivo said.
So if school officials load a student’s photo into the system, they can track where and when the student moved around in the school in the past 60 days.
They can see who the student talked to and where the student went during class hours.
Rabey, the Depew superintendent, said the Aegis system also could be applied to school discipline.
“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.
Lockport schools turn to state-of-the-art technology to beef up security[The Buffalo News]