Safer Schools: Baltimore County Invests Millions in Gun Detecting AI

Baltimore County is investing millions in new AI technology to help prevent school shootings.

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is investing $2.66 million to upgrade school security cameras with a technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect guns on school grounds. In August, the Baltimore County School Board approved a contract through May 2027 with Omnilert Gun Detect, a tech company whose school safety philosophy includes “controlling access to buildings and grounds, monitoring areas with gun detection cameras, and installing and administering mass notification and alarm systems.”

Omlilert’s website describes its services as the following:

… an AI-powered, visual gun detection platform to provide a proactive, preventative defense to gun violence. When coupled with an organization’s existing security measures, the addition of Omnilert Gun Detect offers organizations a strong preemptive solution that can stop gun violence before shots are fired.

Omnilert uses AI to enable existing security cameras on school campuses to identify guns and activate automated responses, such as notifying police or locking doors, via an alert system. When Omnilert’s software detects a gun, clients can either review the threat themselves or outsource that work to Omnilert. BCPS has chosen to outsource the review process. Notably, the software does not use facial recognition to protect the privacy of students and staff.

To increase the technology’s opportunity for successful detection, BCPS is also adding 1,000 security cameras to bring the total number across the county’s 180 school campuses to 7,000.

Baltimore County joins hundreds of others already utilizing Omnilert’s technology: Omnilert is already in several hundred schools, hospitals, government offices, banks, and businesses, including Charles County Public Schools.

Talbot County Public Schools (TCPS) is using this school year to test a similar school safety technology using an AI program to help prevent school shootings. Artis Magi, an AI company headquartered in St. Michaels, created SafeTime, an app to help prevent school shootings via community input. Unlike Omnilert, Talbot’s technology is based on school community diligence. If a student, school staff, or community member sees something suspicious online, all they have to do is report it using an 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.

Learn more about this BCPS safer schools initiative.

Watch the August 8 Baltimore County Board of Education meeting.