NEWS & TRENDS: Technology Could Help Stop a School Shooting

As districts grapple with how best to protect students and staff in an age of lockdowns, many are looking to advanced communications systems and facial recognition software. Schools are considering high-tech systems to increase security, such as mobile apps that allow real-time head counts during emergency situations, facial recognition technology that identifies individuals who have been placed on a school’s “blacklist,” and tools that recognize and alert officials to exposed guns. “Technology certainly does have a role in school crime prevention, as well as in school crisis management, but it’s really up to [the school districts] how much they embrace the technology,” says Ron Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center. Some of the newer mobile app-based technology can also be used in other emergency situations where schools need to be evacuated immediately, such as during gas leaks or natural disasters. Schools and districts across the country, large and small, have implemented or are testing numerous security programs. However, they come at a cost. Some experts believe that this technology may not be a practical investment for school districts when the probability of any one school experiencing a shooting is “once every 12,000 years.”