New York District to Begin Testing Facial Recognition System

New York District to Begin Testing Facial Recognition System

Next week, Lockport City School District will start testing its new facial and object recognition system, Superintendent Michelle Bradley announced Tuesday.

Next week, Lockport City School District will start testing its new facial and object recognition system, Superintendent Michelle Bradley announced Tuesday. The facial and object recognition cameras and software system—one of the first of its kind to be implemented in an American school—were installed this past September.

The district will begin the “initial implementation phase” on Monday, Bradley said. During this phase, the facial and object recognition system will be tested and any necessary adjustments will be made. Officials will check the camera angles and lighting and undergo training.

District officials will also work with local law enforcement to coordinate responses in the event the system detects a problem that requires an emergency alert.

“We’ll just work through those things,” Bradley said.

The district paid for the system, which relies on the SN Technologies Aegis software suite, with $1.4 million of the $4.2 million allocated to it via the New York Smart Schools Bond Act.

The Aegis software uses a database of individuals to alert district officials when a flagged person is detected on campus property. It can also reportedly detect 10 kinds of guns.

The software has received some criticism about privacy, but Bradley said the district has established boundaries for its use.

“I would say for the Lockport City School District, while it’s controversial, it’s not prohibited and the most important thing is we believe we’ve established boundaries in the use of this,” Bradley said. “We have a policy that intends to protect privacy. We have identified a small group of individuals who will be placed in a database.”

The Board of Education adopted a policy in December that outlines how the Aegis system will be used. According to the policy, those expected to be in the Aegis facial recognition database may include: students who have been suspended, staff placed on suspension or administrative leave, level 2 and level 3 sex offenders, any person who’s been notified that they are not allowed on district property, anyone prohibited by court order from entering district property or anyone believed to pose a threat.

Parents were notified of the plans to test the system in a letter.

According to district director of technology Robert LiPuma, only one test has been conducted so far, at the request of the Board of Education. The test was conducted with a trustee and a district teacher who are twins.

“We did have one incident where the board member came in and was identified on the first camera as the teacher and then it made a mistake, but it was an odd angle picture,” LiPuma said. “But the second camera picked her up as who she actually was. It was actually a good test for me.”

During this testing phase, LiPuma said that the district will add more people into the database, go through every single door to ensure an alert comes up on whoever is in the database and test multiple kinds of alerts. A gun alert is the only alert about which law enforcement would be notified, and LiPuma wants to have that coordinated with a test.

District administrators hope the system will help make Lockport schools safer and more secure. She added that school board members are looking at “the human side of violence” in schools.

“In addition to all these things that we’re doing to protect our buildings, we’re also providing the personnel to get into the minds of students and children,” Bradley said. “To help them manage trauma that they’ve been exposed to, to help them deal with difficult times they are having whether at home or in schools.”

Administrators aim to take the system live by the 2019-2020 school year.

“We’re not going to go live until we feel we can responsibly do that,” LiPuma said.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.


  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • Unlocking Peace of Mind

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown Read Now

  • Emerging Campus Access Control Solutions

    Emerging solutions in campus access control can mean different things. Usually, we expect the topic to focus on the very latest in door security products and solutions that have just been recently released or are about to be launched. After all, staying up on improvements to keep campuses safer is critical. Plus, it’s always interesting and exciting to learn what’s new and how innovations are going to better protect lives and assets and help the industry be even more successful. Read Now

  • Here’s How Instructional Audio Can Play a Key Role in School Safety

    Ensuring the safety of students and employees is critical in today’s educational environment. While the threat of a school shooting is in the back of everyone’s mind, the truth is there are many possible scenarios that could crop up at any time in classrooms, hallways, and other school spaces—from fights or altercations to a sick child or staff member who requires emergency attention. Read Now