salt lake city – From the Capitol to the classroom, Utahns are feeling the need for increased security in their schools. Artificial intelligence may be the solution.

Dozens of Utah school districts rely on AI to stop violence on their doorsteps. They told KSL there has been an increase in problematic behavior, including an increase in weapons on campus.

KSL investigated three types of safety technology used in Utah schools: Evolv, ZeroEyes, and AEGIX.


Hunter High School students walked among Evolv's weapon detection towers last year. Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said new security technology needs to be considered.

“About a year and a half ago, we saw an increase in weapons being brought onto school campuses,” Horsley said. “In one year, more than 20 weapons were brought onto school campuses, including this one.”

The Evolv machine uses AI to detect items like large knives and guns.

Hunter High School Students Walk Through Evolv AI Weapon Detection Tower Checking Weapons (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

“These are meant to be what you see when you walk by at a large Marriott Center or other large sporting event, detecting the size, density and shape of potential weapons.” he said.

Mr. Horsley said he conducted numerous covert operations to test this, and it worked.

“into….A little more than a year after the system was introduced, weapons were found on campus outside the building. “What this tells us is that students know internally that they cannot bring weapons onto campus,” he said. “Security information provided by the state includes chatter from gang members and social media posts that say kids can't bring weapons on campus and know they will be arrested if they do. There is something that is true.”

He said the technology removes human bias.

“We're sensitive to that,” Horsley said. “We don't want our students to feel targeted because of their race or ethnicity. This is why we want to use technology like AI, rather than the human aspect. , density, and shape.”

Griffin Gallagher of Hunter High School told KSL he feels there are some flaws.

“We felt that if someone had hidden pockets or something, it would be a huge benefit for us if their bags were searched a little more thoroughly,” he said.

Gallagher said they have been dealing with false alarms and inconsistent staffing.

“I used to come here from basketball practice early in the morning and I remember there was no one here around 5:30 in the morning, so it was still a little bit like someone putting something in their bag. “I thought it might give me an opportunity to go and put something in my locker or hide something in my backpack,” he said. “The security guards left around 2 o'clock, so I felt like it wasn't safe after school.”

Evolv AI Weapon Detection Tower at Hunter High School (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

Horsley said the pilot program would only have security guards present during school hours.

“The goal is to run a system like this 12 to 15 hours a day,” he said.

He noted that the system was not in place to prevent active shooter situations.

“This is intended to address one component or one layer of security that we think is needed in our schools here in the Granite School District,” Horsley said.

He noted that adults do not need to use weapon detection systems at after-school events such as sports games or performances.

“State law allows adults, concealed carry permit holders and others to carry weapons on campus,” Horsley said. “So if an adult finds themselves in this situation, there is no need for them to get tested.”

The district has not yet decided whether to implement the system after the pilot program ends.

“We submitted to Congress in 2023 requesting $12 million to address many of these components and support the cost of such a system.The goal of being the largest component of this cost is , it’s actually the personnel that runs it,” Horsley said. . “The system itself is relatively inexpensive.”

Mr Gallagher said some adjustments would need to be made if the detection system remained in place.

“It’s tough because I don’t want to go to school like airport security every day, but I’m grateful to be safe at school,” he said.

zero eyes

Other schools around the state are testing a different system called ZeroEyes.

ZeroEyes uses AI software built into a school's existing cameras to spot potential weapons. Surveillance centers staffed around the clock in Hawaii and Pennsylvania include military veterans and members of law enforcement to verify whether threats are real.

“When these experts confirm that a gun has been identified, they can raise an alarm and provide actionable information such as a visual description, type of gun, and the last known location of the shooter within just 3 to 5 seconds of discovery. information to local staff and law enforcement,” a ZeroEyes spokesperson said.

A company spokesperson told KSL that pricing ranges from $20 to $50 per month per camera stream, depending on variables such as number of cameras, contract length, infrastructure, and network.

A promotional video introducing ZeroEyes' software.

A promotional video introducing ZeroEyes' software. (Courtesy of Zero Eyes)

Horsley said the Granite School District chose not to use ZeroEyes because its purpose is different than Evolv's.

“Zero Eyes is responding to security threats in the wake of the presence of weapons and active shooter incidents on campus,” he said. “When weapons are brought onto campus, students aren't pulling out weapons and brandishing them. They're displaying those weapons in restrooms where there are no cameras.”

As part of the School Safety Requirements Act, the Utah Legislature authorized the Utah State Board of Education to award a $3 million contract to ZeroEyes and the AEGIX AIM app, another solution that stands for active incident management. The system is expected to be in place in select Utah schools through June 2025.

Interested school districts completed school safety assessments and applied for federal funding to cover costs through a competitive grant process.

Aegix AIM

Aegix Global CEO Chet Linton said if ZeroEyes experts confirm the threat is real, an alert will be sent to the Aegix AIM app, which can be downloaded to any mobile device. Individual schools decide who has access to the app.

“If something happens or someone sees something, you can pull out your device, click on your phone, select the type of alert you want, send it, and everyone in the building will be notified of that alert.” Linton said.

Alerts are also sent to first responders and dispatchers.

Immediately, faculty and staff will be asked to provide their location. Live chat and maps are sent to them and first responders to help them quickly respond to threats.

“When there's an active shooter, the only way for response forces and law enforcement to find people is usually by SWAT teams finding them through gunshots and screaming,” Linton said. “It's sobering. As grandfathers and parents, it's horrifying that we're doing this.”

He said the live map will help first responders know which locations are safe and if anyone is in need of medical attention.

Linton shows KSL TV's Shelby Lofton a live map that first responders can see.

Linton shows KSL TV's Shelby Lofton a live map that first responders can see. (KSL TV)

“Privacy is always a concern,” Linton said. “With our special application, people are only located during an incident.”

Linton said KSL Aegix AIM is currently being used in about 400 schools across the country, including Spanish Fork High School, where it made a difference during last year's emergency.

When a gunman was reported in March 2023, school officials were preparing for the worst. Teacher Andy Hunsaker told her KSL that she was able to deal with the situation with her students with the help of the Aegix AIM app and was alerted to the fact. The campus was on lockdown and there was a threat inside.

“We have guidance in place to remind teachers of what they will be doing in the classroom,” Linton said. “This is supposed to work when people are full of adrenaline, scared to death, and don't know what else to do. Big, simple buttons and guidance that explains what to do.”

Lana Hiskey, a former spokesperson for the Nebo School District, credited the app for quick communication and direction during the lockdown.

“The principal proactively pushed the alarm button, which resulted in the entire staff being alerted to the incident and going into lockdown,” Mr Hiskey said.

Spanish Fork High School says emergency app helped during hoax call lockdown

Fortunately, the threat was a hoax.

Linton said the app has been successful in stopping shooters in many incidents.

Pricing for the app starts at about $2,000 per year per school and increases depending on services and integrations, an AEGIX spokesperson said.

Rhett Larsen, a school safety expert with USBE, told KSL that the grant for firearm detection software is a one-time opportunity. If the school wants to keep his ZeroEyes and Aegix AIMs after June 30, 2025, they will have to pay for them themselves.

“Local education agencies that want to maintain these services will have to pay for them in other ways,” he said.

National Security Officer for Safety Technology:

State leaders said safety techniques cannot be 100% effective in real-life emergencies without uniform training.

Matt Pennington, the newly appointed Secretary of National Security, said, “I would say technology is something that improves security performance.” “There are some basic things that have to happen.”

Mr. Pennington's position in the Department of Public Safety was created by the School Safety Requirements Act of 2023. He previously worked for the South Jordan Police Department for several years.

Asked if Utah schools are equipped to handle safety threats, Pennington said situations vary.

“I certainly think some are better than others,” Pennington said.

He said schools need to ensure that no matter what technology they choose, there are basic practices in place. His focus is on standardizing school safety across the state.

“I hope the entire state can get on the same page so that if you transfer from Logan to St. George, you don’t have a different environment or experience,” Pennington said.

Pennington said schools use different terminology for emergency situations and when conducting drills at different intervals.

As he travels around the state, he works with local communities to improve emergency plans and hopes technology will keep students safe in an ever-evolving world.

“I think there are a lot of different factors, not just shootings and violent intruders, but everything from bullying to social media and everything that kids are exposed to in this day and age,” Pennington said.

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