MESA (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Mesa tech company wants to launch facial recognition sign-in kiosks at Phoenix-area schools to help the schools track visitors.
It's called Visitor Aware, and its software is meant to replace a handwritten sign-in sheet. The computer system prompts visitors to indicate where they’re going on campus and takes a picture of them. They also have to scan their driver's license.
The picture is then cross-referenced with the national sex offender registry. Facial recognition data points from the photo and driver’s license information are stored on a cloud-based server.
Visitor Aware’s founders say it’s all about knowing who’s coming in and out of a given school.
“Most schools have a security resource officer, so any time anybody checks in, they will be notified so they can stay on top of anybody who comes through the door,” said Joanna Haugland, who runs marketing for Visitor Aware.
The notification is sent to security officers or administrators via a text message.
Some parents say they’d welcome tech and believe it will make schools safer.
“There’s always that little bit of you that worries that something may happen, or could happen,” said Steven Weigley, president of the Canyon Rim Elementary PTA.
Weigley says he’d like to push for Gilbert Public Schools to adopt the technology, even if it means giving up some privacy.
“Big Brother’s always a concern,” Weigley said. “But there are things today that Big Brother does to protect us.”
However, some tech experts say there are concerns about storing all this sensitive data, even if it’s well-protected.
“Every level of us securing data is countered by someone else trying something trickier,” said Dr. Dave Bolman, provost of the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe. “The worst thing that could happen from that is someone could find you personally. Like identify what you look like, and where your home is, and very detailed information if they crack into the system.”
And while Bolman says there are always trade-offs with technology, he adds that an extra layer of tech security at schools could be useful.
“[The] more tools we have in our tool kit to keep our kids safe is a good thing.”
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