Metro Nashville Public Schools looks to add gun detection software

The technology can detect guns and even trigger lockdowns and signal law enforcement.
The MNPS school board is set to vote Tuesday on an AI system that would detect guns and automatically alert officials.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:33 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2023 at 6:38 AM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Metro Nashville Public Schools is looking to add new safety technology that can detect a gun within seconds.

The artificial intelligence system from California-based company Omnilert uses security cameras to find guns in schools and can even automatically trigger lockdowns and call police.

The Metro School Board is set to vote on the $1 million contract for the software on Tuesday. It includes coverage for all Metro school buildings and a monitoring service for human review of alerts flagged through the AI system.

“Over the last few months, the district has been working with our security camera provider to see about products that would enable a brandished weapon detection feature for 1,300+ security cameras installed throughout the district,” Metro Schools spokesperson Sean Braisted said in a statement. “We are proposing to contract on the upcoming Board agenda with this company to provide an Omnilert gun detection add-on feature to our existing security camera system that will accomplish this goal.”

The AI system would monitor security cameras for guns and other weapons at schools.

The technology was developed from the Department of Defense and has been available for schools and other businesses to use for about a year, Omnilert CEO Dave Fraser said. Servers installed at each school allow the computer system to monitor the school’s security cameras and alert when a weapon is detected.

“It can detect a gun extremely quickly in an area that is not normally covered by any of the traditional techniques,” Fraser said. “Once the gun has been detected, which takes less than a second, it can set off an automatic set of actions to try to change the outcome of the situation.”

The software can be customized for each school, Fraser said, and includes features that set off alarms, lock doors and track a gunman. Response plans can be programmed into the system and be launched automatically when the threat is confirmed through the software.

“This is a technology that allows an existing safety system, your security cameras, to be turned into a proactive avoidance tool,” Fraser said. Instead of looking at cameras after something happens, they can try to stop an incident in progress.

Many Metro Schools parents said they are excited about this software because they’re hopeful it can give them added peace of mind when dropping their students off at school.

If the Board approves the purchase, the contract will begin on March 1. Fraser said installation only takes a couple of days.