SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

How former Navy SEALs use artificial intelligence to make schools safer

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Dustin is posing as an active shooter armed with an assault rifle. He’s roaming the halls of Rancocas Valley Regional High School. If he thinks he’s undetected looking to prey on the unsuspecting, he’d be completely wrong. ZeroEyes detects weapons out in the open through the school’s numerous cameras — watching, recording and reporting his every step.

“We use artificial intelligence. We’ve tested a couple different model architectures and we use that over existing security cameras using different types of GPUs to be able to digest those video feeds, run analytics over it looking for a weapon and then sending the alert out,” said Mike Lahiff, CEO of ZeroEyes.

The alert goes out in a flash to law enforcers and administrators with video of Dustin’s movements and location. Notifications, not just on a desktop or big screen, but through an app on the cellphone of Mount Holly Police Officer and School Resource Officer Debra Murillo.

“Instantly, I would get on my police radio and notify first responders that I have a possible threat on location. I will also notify the school staff on my school radio to let them know to place the school in lockdown. Once the school is in lockdown, I’ll be making my way toward that threat,” said Murillo.

The high-tech security system is relying on artificial intelligence to make a real difference.

“I hope that we can actually save lives. That is the bottom line. I think if we can give first responders this great intelligence right away we can save lives,” said Rob Huberty, COO for ZeroEyes.

Huberty and Lahiff are former Navy SEALs, redeploying their active shooter response experiences with their families in mind. Both of their wives teach school.

“When we looked at solutions, everything was what we call to the right of bang so it was after shots already were already fired, or it’s hardening facilities, adding more guards. But all these places already have security cameras. What could we do, force multiplier effect, but then leverage those security cameras to be proactive so hopefully get to the left of bang and decrease those response times,” said Lahiff.

Lahiff says the technology would have been useful in some recent school shootings in detecting guns carried out in the open either approaching schools or in the hallways. Rancocas superintendent Dr. Chris Heilig says he welcomes another layer of security, one that’s nearly invisible.

“This keeps the nurturing feel of the school district without the feel that you may get when there’s a metal detector when you’re walking in,” Heilig said.

The co-founders say ZeroEyes has minimal false negatives and false positives and software upgrades are improving results as they get ready for September and the challenge of keeping thousands of students and school workers safe.