Can Social Media Be Used To Predict and Prevent Safety Threats in Schools?

With active shooter incidents occurring more frequently in our schools, law enforcement and citizens alike are desperately searching for preventative solutions. After a violent act occurs in a school, the first question is often, “How could we have known this was going to happen?” It’s a complicated question because the warning signs aren’t always interpreted as real threats. In many cases, however, social media posts created by the offender prior to the incident wave massive red flags. Had these posts been reported and assessed by law enforcement, it’s possible that tragedies may have been prevented.

Rekor Systems recently announced the public availability of an innovative security solution called FIRSTSight. It uses artificial intelligence to constantly analyze public social media posts within a specified geographic radius around a school. During the 2018-2019 schoolyear, Rekor System’s FIRSTSight technology was used to monitor hundreds of public schools in the states of Florida, Montana, and Michigan.

The system searches for trigger words that may indicate a potential threat. It uses contextual clues to decide whether the post is benign or potentially threatening. The company also employs a team of trained analysts who use the same threat identification and prevention principles used by the United States Secret Service. When their AI encounters trigger words, the post is sent to a human analyst. If the analyst finds the post to be concerning, they address it with the school’s staff immediately.

This technology indicates a shift in the way schools and their communities are approaching the issue of gun violence. It is becoming more clear that social media can provide useful intelligence, especially when social media posts are often brought up as “missed warnings” after violent acts occur. So many perpetrators have been found to have made threats online or posted evidence of concerning behavior. Social media monitoring will likely become an essential aspect of school security in the coming years.

ACT offers a wide range of security solutions, installations, and integrations. From access control systems to surveillance cameras, we are trained to design and install customized security systems for unique applications. Contact us today to find out how we can make your school safer.

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