Facial recognition tech coming to New York school district next week, report says

Aegis' suite of tools aims to protect schools from shootings, sex offenders and other dangers.

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Facial recognition technology reportedly will be tested on students.

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To better protect kids, a school district in New York is going to give facial recognition  a try.

Next Monday, Lockport City School District will reportedly be the first US public school system to test a facial recognition program on students and staff. The district begins the "initial implementation phase" for the Aegis software suite, the Lockport Union-Sun and Journal reported Tuesday.

Aegis' applications include a facial recognition tool, Sentry, that alerts school officials if anyone from the local Sex Offenders Registry enters a school or if any suspended students, fired employees or known gang members enters a school, according to SN Technology, Aegis' developer. The company also offers Protector, a shape recognition tool that recognizes the top 10 guns used in school shootings, and Mercury, a forensic search engine that can review unattended video. SN Technology confirmed all three applications would be deployed in the district. 

Superintendent Michelle Bradley and Robert LiPuma, director of assessment and technology, said in a statement that Lockport City School District is committed to protecting the safety of its students, staff and visitors. The statement said the district has already increased security measures in the past, like the "Raptor" ID System, which reviews the government-issued IDs presented by building visitors and alerts if they're in the sex offender database. 

Aegis' system won't compile information on and track the movements of all District students, staff and visitors, the district's statement said. Instead, the software is limited to identifying whether an individual whose photograph has been entered into the system database is on district property. The people in the database are those who aren't allowed on the property. If one is identified by Aegis' software, it will alert and at least two levels of identification by staff have to happen before action is taken before response can be fully taken. In the case of the system identifying a gun, it immediately alerts police. 

Police, stores and airports want to use facial recognition tech to help solve crimes, prevent shoplifting and make boarding flights more efficient. But activists see the tech casting a dark shadow over civil liberties. In May, San Francisco became the first US city to prohibit police from using the technology, and critics continue to press local governments to implement bans.

The ACLU has also spoken out against Amazon's sale of its Rekognition tech. The group says the identification software could turn the US into a surveillance state and invade people's privacy. Researchers have also found that the software runs into issues with recognizing women, as well as people with darker skin.

Originally published May 30, 9:35 a.m. PT.
Update, May 31: Adds info from SN Technologies and statement by Lockport City School District. 

Watch this: Backlash grows for police use of facial recognition (The 3:59, Ep. 562)