The Nashville school system will be the nation’s first to use security cameras that spot intruders with controversial face-recognition technology, reports USA Today. Starting Dec. 1, the 75,000-student district will equip three schools and an administration building with cameras that can detect an unfamiliar face or someone barred from school grounds. The system costs $30,000. Several intruders have entered Nashville schools in the past year. A successful test in Nashville could prod other schools to try the technology, said Peter Pochowski of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers.
Nashville will take digital photos of students and workers at the three test schools and store them in the new camera system. When a camera spots a face in a school that it cannot match to a stored photo, it will alert security. The system also could detect suspended and expelled students and fired employees. The technology is criticized by civil libertarians and has been discarded by police in Tampa and Virginia Beach, which found face-recognition cameras in downtown districts did not help in spotting wanted criminals. Schools have grown more open to security technology since the Columbine shootings in 1999, though many lack money for high-tech devices, said Ken Trump, a school safety consultant.