Calgary’s Mount Royal University is turning to artificial intelligence technology to make the school safer and allow security officers to catch criminals in the act. The iCentana technology alerts officials on a bank of video screens, shown in a handout photo, when anything out of the ordinary occurs in the normal flow of university hallways and outside the facility. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Mount Royal University)

‘A lot safer place:’ Calgary university uses AI to monitor threats

The technology alerts officials when anything out of the ordinary occurs

A post-secondary school in southern Alberta is turning to artificial intelligence to make its buildings safer and to allow security officers to catch criminals in the act.

The technology at Mount Royal University in Calgary alerts officials when anything out of the ordinary occurs in the normal flow of university hallways or on its grounds.

Developed in Australia, the iCetana system breaks everything down to pixels and “learns” the movement patterns of people, equipment and vehicles across the campus over a 14-day period. It comes to recognize shapes, sizes and movement — but not people or specific objects.

“What it will do if people normally walk in this hallway, and now they’re running, it’s going to … flash it on the screen,” explains Grant Sommerfeld, the university’s associate vice-president of facilities management.

“All the system does essentially is track the movement of pixels. It could be a gun. It could be a backpack, a selfie stick. It’s not going to automatically know that’s a gun. It doesn’t look for images.”

READ MORE: New elementary school means new transportation arrangements

Sommerfeld says security officials used to watch an outdated bank of video screens, which would cycle through cameras on campus.

“Security staff faced with a wall of monitors and a full shift could almost get hypnotized by it and essentially it just becomes like wallpaper.”

New, high-resolution, 360-degree cameras that have been installed across campus catch details the old ones would have missed. And the screens are black unless something out of place has been detected.

“When there’s a change in the movement of the pixels on these screens, it flashes up in security with 15 seconds of what was happening before the pattern changed. It fast-forwards … and presents a real-time image,” says Sommerfeld.

“The human sitting at the desk decides we’ve got to go and investigate or decides, no, that’s fine.”

Sommerfeld says the system also recognizes something as simple as a backpack left in an empty hallway.

“It may be somebody forgot a backpack or it could be more sinister than that. It just knows that something is not normal in the movement on that hallway.”

Sommerfeld says security staff can intervene right away if there is a problem, unlike previously when video was used as evidence after the fact.

“It allows us to become much more proactive in terms of intervening and stopping crimes or bad behaviour,” he says. “I think it makes the school a lot safer place.”

There are other artificial intelligence models being developed, especially in the aftermath of school shootings.

A computer software company out of Philadelphia has it’s own AI threat detection. It identifies weapons and sends images of the firearms and the shooter to law enforcement and school officials.

“We’re not in Canada right now,” says ZeroEyes spokesman Rob Huberty, who adds the technology is still part of pilot projects.

Huberty says the software focuses on active shooter situations and uses video systems already in place.

“We basically take all the weapons that have been used in school shootings as our models and we constantly add to our data base,” Huberty says.

“A lot of people in school shootings expose their weapons fairly early, a lot of times in the parking lot, so we can let everybody know before any shot is fired.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

RCMP and fire departments respond to possible drowning on Sylvan Lake

RCMP say they are actively searching for a man in his 20s with boats on the lake

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Calkins comments on CPC promise to make maternity benefits tax free

Tax credit would remove federal income tax from EI maternity and EI parental benefits

Lacombe County Council contributes to new Eckville playground

The Eckville Fundraising Society is receiving $50,000 from the County to put towards the playground

Eckville Slo Pitch asks Council for additional diamonds

The league is looking to expand and can’t do so with its current two diamond, one night arrangement

Eckville Jamboree ready to dance in to town

The annual three-day event, Aug. 23-25, will be held at the Eckville Community Centre

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

Ethics commissioner ready to testify on Trudeau, SNC-Lavalin: NDP critic

A new poll suggests the report hasn’t so far hurt the Liberals’ chances of re-election this fall

Inflation hits Bank of Canada 2% target for second straight month

Prices showed strength in other areas, including an 18.9 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

Alberta oil curtailment rules extended to late 2020 as pipeline delays drag on

At issue is ability to export oil in face of regulatory and legal challenges against pipelines

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Most Read