🎥 AI cameras have facial recognition, can detect weapons

🎥 7,700 cameras will be installed at Newark schools

🎥 Contact costs over $12 million

NEWARK — More than 7,000 surveillance cameras that can detect problems in real-time using artificial intelligence will be installed in the state's largest school district before next September

A $12-million contract to install the cameras at the district's 63 schools was approved by the Newark school board at a meeting earlier this month. Funds left over from the American Rescue Plan that expire in September will cover a portion of the contract, according to district Business Administrator Valerie Wilson.

"We will be able to see information in real-time with regards to activities that are occurring in our schools and around our schools," said Wilson.

The Sayreville company that was awarded the two-year contract, Turn-Key Technologies, will also create a data warehouse for the digital camera footage. Newark plans to have the cameras installed by the end of August so they are available for the next school year, Chalkbeat Newark reported.

University High School in Newark (Google Maps)
University High School in Newark (Google Maps)

Why do NJ schools need AI surveillance cameras?

The 7,700 new surveillance cameras will replace the district's old system, which is "outdated" and "inefficient," according to school board documents.

Cameras with capabilities for facial recognition and the ability to detect and read license plates will be placed inside and outside school buildings.

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They will also work with sensors to detect "things such as guns, chemicals in vape pens, as well as set up to hear or react to the sound of a gun, glass breakage, human screaming," and other problem sounds.

School officials said that the new surveillance system will not be an invasion of privacy.

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Google Maps/Canva
Google Maps/Canva

"In no way, shape, or form will this result in an invasion of privacy of anyone — students, staff, or otherwise," said Wilson. "Cameras and devices will not and cannot be placed in areas that are not approved."

School officials said the surveillance will improve the safety of students.

Police were called to Newark schools 12 times and made eight arrests in the 2022-2023 school year, according to state Department of Education data.

In one instance, a 12-year-old student at Roberto Clemente Elementary School was taken to the hospital after a peer pulled a knife during a fight, the Daily Voice reported.

A spokesperson for the school district did not immediately respond to a request for comment from New Jersey 101.5.

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Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

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