Safer Schools: Talbot Pilots AI App to Prevent School Shootings

Talbot County is testing a new AI app developed locally to help prevent school shootings.

Talbot County Public Schools (TCPS) is testing a pilot artificial intelligence (AI) program to help prevent school shootings in the district’s public schools, grades 6-12. Artis Magi, an AI company headquartered in St. Michaels, created SafeTime, an app to help prevent school shootings via community input.

SafeTime was designed with “simplicity and ease in mind.” If a student, school staff, or community member sees something suspicious online, all they have to do is report it using the app. Reporting from The Star Democrat reads:

Imagine if a few taps on your phone could prevent a school shooting. Now imagine putting that power in the hands of students, their families and teachers. For the Talbot County community, this imagination is becoming a reality.

Here’s how it works, according to the article:

For instance, imagine you’re scrolling through Instagram and see something concerning. If it’s a post, you hit the share button. The SafeTime app will pop up in that list of different sharing apps (next to your text messaging and social media apps). You click on the SafeTime app. From there, you can post the image directly to SafeTime. Before it’s officially sent, you are asked to share some details and add any additional media if you have it. Now you’re done. Technically, you never even left Instagram.

And if the suspicious message or post is something you can’t share directly, all you need to do is take a screenshot. Then you can follow those same simple steps on your photo app.

When a submission is received via the app, Talbot County agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office, other local law enforcement agencies, TCPS, and the Talbot County Department of Social Services, are notified—all of those local agencies partnered with the app to receive the SafeTime submission at the same time. Notifications go out almost immediately, with only about a two-second delay from submission.

“When you hear of all these tragic instances across the country, during the investigation it always comes out that somebody did tell somebody something,” Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble said. “But maybe it didn’t make it to the law enforcement or didn’t make it to the right person in law enforcement. This is a way to get that information directly to the Talbot County Public Schools community, as well as to those of us that have to respond.”

Several safeguards are in place in case submissions are false positives. A student could only face consequences if they intentionally use the system for their benefit, like using the app to cause an evacuation that gets them out of class.

TCPS is launching an enrollment campaign this week to get students, educators, school staff, and families to enroll in the app; it only works if there’s a solid network to report incidents.

Read the full article.