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MFISD approves video security system that can detect faces, read plates

MFISD approves new video security system

MFISD Director of Technology Nathan Fink presents reasons for the purchase of a new AI security camera software system designed to modernize the district’s current security camera operation. Screen captured image

A new security camera software that uses artificial intelligence, or AI, technology will improve student safety on Marble Falls Independent School District campuses, officials said. The system also offers facial detection and reads license plates.

The Genentech system will cost $73,000. The purchase was approved by the MFISD Board of Trustees in a 7-0 vote during a regular meeting on Monday, April 17.

The old system was bought in 2016. At the time, Marble Falls High School had only 67 cameras.

“At the time, (the company hired) was the leader in the industry. We went with Salient to manage those cameras,” said Nathan Fink, MFISD’s director of technology. “It hit all of the high points we were looking for.”

Since then, the district has greatly expanded camera installations on each campus with over 300 cameras districtwide.

“When our current camera installation is complete, I think we’ll hit 334 total,” Fink said. 

While the current system can handle a large number of cameras, its software technology standards have failed to keep up with competitors.

“Compared to current industry leaders, (Salient) is kind of your standard, run-of-the-mill system,” Fink said. “It can show you the cameras, but it can’t do really much more than that.”

He said the Genentech software uses AI analytics in cameras and third-party software.

“When I say AI analytics, it’s an AI chip that’s built into the cameras that are now coming out,” Fink said. “That chip is basically reading all the pixels of the video that’s processing through that camera, and it’s able to put it together and identify things.”

School administrators will be able to save time during video investigations by using the software to quickly narrow down and filter searches.

“A person, a car, a truck, you can even narrow down the specific characteristics like the color of the car or the color of the shirt the person is wearing or the pants,” Fink said. “It can also do face detection.”

The software also can be used in theft incidents by detecting the movement of objects inside a room.

“If something gets stolen, it can tell you when that object disappeared from the frame,” Fink said.

Another reason Fink suggested changing systems was because of Genentech’s ability to read license plates.

“(License Plate Recognition) cameras are pretty standard now,” he said. “The system would give you the ability to capture and log license plates as they drive by the cameras and be able to send text or email alerts on specific plates.”