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AI-powered Video Analytics for Campus Security

Making schools and other educational establishments safe for students and faculty has always been a top priority and a difficult task. Campus security concerns include thefts, burglaries, vandalism, gang violence, bullying and assaults, among others. In the last few years, the challenge has gone up ten-fold. It is mostly attributed to the increased number of active shooting incidents on school grounds that nearly doubled over the last five years. School administrations can’t afford to ignore that and are looking for ways to enhance the efficiency of their campus security. Not only do they control access to the school building, but they also implement AI analytics to strengthen the security infrastructure. As kids are set to come back to school, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which AI video analytics software added to campus security cameras contributes to improving safety and security on school grounds.

Enhance campus video surveillance

A school or college campus occupies a large area that includes various learning facilities, some with valuable assets like computers or lab equipment, a residential area for students, and shared spaces such as libraries, cafeterias, meeting rooms, sports grounds, and parking lots. All of them require appropriate round-the-clock monitoring.

Typically, school and college campuses are equipped with cameras, and there is a security department that keeps track of the campus at all times, watching videos from numerous cameras and dispatching mobile guards when an incident occurs. The problem is that managing a large number of feeds is a daunting task and inevitably leads to fatigue. Human operators are prone to errors, get tired easily, and have a short attention span. Which is why, after only 20 minutes, 95% of events can be missed.

It’s possible to prevent this by utilizing artificial intelligence. AI video analytics integrated into security cameras monitors the campus area 24/7 and automatically detects threats, whether it’s an active shooter, fights, a fire, a slip-and-fall accident, or something else. Instant alerts allow the security team to respond to incidents as soon as they happen. Thus, regardless of the number of cameras and facility size, no detail or incident will go unnoticed.

Though bomb incidents are quite rare, bomb threats present a common hazard in schools and require prompt attention. In this respect, the ability of AI to detect abandoned objects, such as bags or briefcases, can be of great importance. Bags may simply be forgotten or discarded by mistake, or they can be left behind intentionally and pose a potential danger. Utilizing object detection technology makes it possible to spot unattended objects in real time and immediately report them to security personnel so that they can take the necessary action.

Active shooter preparedness

School shootings are the reality that students, educators, and parents have to face. In 2021, there were at least 202 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in the US, resulting in 49 deaths and 126 injuries. This year we have already seen at least 95 incidents of gunfire, with 40 people dead and 76 injured.

Mass shootings in schools, like the most recent and deadly incident in an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., horrify the entire world and inevitably challenge school management to strengthen active shooter preparedness. One feasible idea is to equip schools with tools that can effectively detect a gunfire threat and ensure clear visibility of the situation. This is where AI proves to be really effective. AI-powered gun detection software is specifically designed to identify visible weapons of various types, such as handguns, shotguns, rifles and even knives, and immediately send alerts with precise real-time information about the incident. This helps significantly reduce the time necessary to respond to the situation. Apart from detecting and identifying an assailant, AI is also capable of tracking suspects in real-time across all the connected cameras based on their appearance, even after the weapon has been hidden. Additionally, the system can be programmed to trigger lock-down protocols to prevent students and staff from unnecessary risk.

AI-powered systems can maintain constant surveillance even after an initial threat is detected, ensuring that the situation is fully resolved. They can assist in communication between security personnel, students, and faculty on campus, providing real-time updates and instructions so that individuals stay informed during a crisis. By tracking the location of the shooter and analyzing the evolving situation, AI can dynamically adapt evacuation routes and reroute people toward secure areas or exits that are not compromised. AI can also analyze the behavior of individuals within a building during an emergency and notify the staff and security team of such anomalies as overcrowding so that they can provide guidance on how to disperse and use alternative routes.

Access control

According to the National Center for Education Statistic’s survey, 95 percent of public schools in the United States control access to buildings during school hours. Still, there are many cases when access is breached, including visits by non-custodial parents or guardians and unauthorized guests within the halls of residence. That forces campuses to consider implementing newer, better, and faster security solutions to mitigate risks and protect lives and property. Keys and locks are no longer sufficient. AI-powered video analytics integrated with face recognition technology makes control over the entrances and exits of an educational facility hassle-free, much faster and more reliable. It enables automatic verification of the identity of students, faculty, and visitors, granting access only to those with valid credentials and denying entry to unwanted visitors. It also helps curb tailgating, preventing unauthorized parties from sneaking in. Besides, an access control system is used to restrict entry to areas with special safety and regulatory concerns, such as labs that may contain biohazards, toxins, or radioactive elements, and sends alerts to notify in the event of perimeter intrusion.

On top of that, access control systems utilizing IoT technology and artificial intelligence can connect various types of door locks into one high-tech school-wide security tool that allows security staff to quickly and easily lock down a campus at the touch of a button, which can be critical in the event of an emergency or threat.

Managing parking lots

A major aspect of security is identifying and monitoring vehicles entering the site. K-12, colleges, and universities face an influx of vehicles coming onto their premises daily, many of which belong to unauthorized individuals who often park their vehicles in the school parking lot. The number of ride-share drivers is also growing dramatically. Security personnel and administrators should understand who is coming onto the campus and control their access to ensure the safety of their students. One way is to implement solutions with AI-powered analytics which can identify authorized and non-campus associated vehicles by reading vehicle license plates and alert security personnel when a blacklisted vehicle enters the area.

Smoke and fire detection

Fires in school and university learning facilities as well as residential areas for students are not uncommon. According to the NFPA, there are more than 3,200 school fires and 3,800 university housing fires each year in the U.S. The leading cause is intentional fires, accounting for almost two of every five incidents. Other reasons include cooking fires, children playing with matches and lighters, heating equipment malfunctions, careless smoking and more. Whatever the cause is, fires lead to mass disruption of educational process, pose a great risk to people’s health, and have a huge financial impact.

Early fire and smoke detection play a pivotal role in responding properly to fire incidents and reducing the outcomes. Computer vision-based fire detection software seems really effective in this respect. It is trained to specifically detect smoke and fire at a distance, both indoors and outdoors. As soon as hazardous smoke or fire is spotted, it immediately alerts all assigned endpoints, providing detailed information on the occurrence.

Final Takeaway

Educational establishments are security-intensive environments whose campuses need efficient and effective tools to protect students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Integrating AI video analytics with campus access control and CCTV security systems can update security infrastructure, increase situational awareness and reduce response time to potentially dangerous situations. AI-powered solutions effectively supplement the work of campus security personnel, improving their operational efficiency and enhancing overall security on campus.

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