One of the most interesting ways to examine emerging technologies is to look at technologies that were emerging a few years ago, then compare their prevalence to today. An interesting article was published two years ago in the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools that highlighted new technologies that can enhance school safety. According to the article, these include thermal imaging, passive body scanners, facial recognition, vape detection, and gunshot detection.

Let’s examine these out of order. There’s a link here between the technology deployed and the software involved. Caliber Public Safety’s Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) and records management (RMS) software can be integrated with new technology in a variety of ways. For example, an alarm triggered by a gunshot detection system could conceivably relay automated communications to a Computer-Aided Dispatch program that provides detailed time and location information to responding officers. This is the primary benefit of gunshot detection, after all; it doesn’t tell you much, but it does tell you that a gunshot occurred (with a timestamp that can be legally traceable depending on network software and appliances).

Thermal imaging, meanwhile, is useful for checking temperatures for public health purposes. This is something that only became a widespread concern during the pandemic. It will be interesting to see if this is pursued on a broader basis in schools and perhaps other public places. The goal is to prevent long lines with stoppages for individual temperature checks.

Some of the other technologies in the article can be less easily linked, at least directly, to the types of public safety software we produce… until you stop to think about it. Facial recognition software, for example, can be used to achieve a variety of aims. One is to make sure students are present and accounted for, providing a deterrent against kidnapping (not to mention an obstacle to truancy). But facial recognition can also be used to control access points. A breach at an access point could then conceivably generate an alert that could be tied to CAD or records management software. The potential is clear.

Passive body scanners are an interesting technology. Traditional metal detectors can be defeated by weapons that are non-metallic (and an alarming array of non-metallic weapons are available or easily improvised). These scanners look for varying density (in a similar fashion to LIDAR) and can therefore detect known weapons profiles under clothing without invasive pat-downs (and while students move quickly through a set of pylons). The technology is being deployed in more and more public venues specifically because it allows large numbers of people to move through an access point without stopping, all while scanning them for potential dangers.

Vape detection is one technology that does seem specific to schools. Vaping has become the preferred way for students to partake of potentially dangerous substances (from tobacco to drugs) while staying “under the radar” of parents and teachers. Vape detectors perceive expelled vapors and can even provide text alerting to those responsible for oversight. There is, perhaps, a lot of potential for this type of alerting, so it will be interesting to see where it goes.

The term “public safety” covers a lot of ground. Caliber is proud to be at the forefront of the industry, constantly innovating new software solutions for public safety professionals and the communities they serve. As technology continues to evolve, we will continue to advance with it.