Broward County (Fla.) district will get surveillance system with facial recognition

Federal grant will enable district to install video system at 36 schools with greatest security needs.

The Broward County (Fla.) School District plans to install at 36 schools a $621,000 video surveillance system at that includes facial-recognition technology.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the technology can be used to check each face against a database of expelled students, sex offenders, felons and other potential troublemakers.

“These cameras’ artificial intelligence recognizes the movements and characteristics of people and vehicles, bringing actionable activity to the attention of those monitoring the cameras,” the district and Broward County government wrote in an application for a federal grant.

The 36 schools that will get the system are mostly high schools “with the highest security needs,” according to a project description. Although the names of schools aren’t listed, one is expected to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, where a former student was able to enter a classroom building on Feb. 14 and and shoot 17 people.

The U.S. Department of Justice has approved a $466,000 grant for the camera system; the Broward district will pay the remaining $155,000.

“This will be essential in helping to improve our security measures, to track who belongs and quickly alerting who does not belong on campus,” says Broward School Board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed at Stoneman Douglas.

The district has already made some major upgrades since the Parkland shooting. It used to have camera systems that only each individual school could monitor; it completed a project in June that connects camera systems at all schools and enables them to be monitored remotely.

Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed at Stoneman Douglas, said he likes the idea of the technology. But he questions why the district is doing this before completing more urgent priorities, such as policies on emergency lockdown procedures, safe spaces for students to hide, and active shooter training for school security monitors.


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