As the hearings continue on the governor’s proposed budget, among the proposals gaining wide-ranging, bi-partisan support is the $69 million proposed for school safety.
In Fulton County Schools, thanks to voter support of SPLOST or the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax, the district is taking school security to the next level.
“The days of James Bond sci-fi is here in Fulton County Schools,” said Shannon Flounnory, the school system's executive director of safety and security.
Flounnory is referring to A-I, or artificial intelligence, capabilities available through the thousands of cameras in the school system, and the software that gives the district’s police department the same technology used in major airports and federal facilities.
For instance, the cameras can zoom into the license plate of any vehicle, or follow the movements of any person on campus.
“The artificial intelligence capabilities gives us the abilities such as something known as advanced appearance search, which essentially kind of marks how a person carries him or herself; how a person walks" Flounnory said. "It is your fingerprint in terms of body movements. We can take that information and determine where that person has been in any of our facilities."
The software allows school police to make specifics searches.
“I can give it commands,” Flounnory said. “I can say — find this person for me — someone with a red shirt and black jacket, and everybody with a red shirt and black jacket is going to populate for me to have an identity.”
It also offers facial recognition and the latest in weapons identification.
“Let’s say there’s a situation, we can tag whether a weapon has been un-holstered in the case of our officers who are on all of our campuses or an unfriendly, the technology is getting better and better as we speak,” Flounnory said.
It’s the big brother in the schools, and Flounnory has a response for critics of that approach.
“I’d be more concerned knowing we hadn’t done everything we could possibly do to keep our kids safe,” he said.
Yet, even with the technology, Flounnory said the best way to keep schools safe is through the culture of safety the district is creating.
“(When) people see something, they let us know,” he said.