New technology could stop school shootings before they begin

Artificial intelligence uses existing security cameras to detects guns

MIAMI – Seventeen lives were lost when a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School almost a year ago and opened fire, but what if the shooting could have been stopped before it began?

Athena, a new security technology system, uses artificial intelligence to detect guns with up to 99 percent accuracy. It can spot those with weapons, or those making threatening motions, from entering schools or businesses.

Christopher Ciabarra, Athena's chief technological officer and co-inventor, said the vision for Athena came out of the same anguish we all feel when seeing another mass shooting in the news.

What makes Athena so accessible for schools and businesses is that the system connects directly to security cameras that are already in place, bypassing any heavy or costly installation. In case of trouble, the system then instantly relays information and can directly alert police.

The technology will also send real-time footage of an incident to law enforcement agencies, allowing them to know about the current situation before they arrive on the scene.

So far, Athena is already in use at a Pennsylvania high school and officials there say it offers peace of mind.

Ciabarra says police departments around the county have shown interest in the security system. 

While Athena promises that its algorithms will keep prices down, the main holdup could be that the system cannot currently distinguish between a real gun and a fake, possibly causing unneeded alarms.

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