Thursday, April 18, 2024

NHCS to use AI to monitor online threats to students

NHCS will monitor student online activity through AI through 2024. (PCD).

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — New Hanover County Schools announced Tuesday it will use artificial intelligence to track students’ online activity per a new contract.

The district hired LightSpeed Systems in the amount of $211,346 to screen internet activity on NHCS devices and Google accounts for indicators of self-harm, cyberbullying, suicide and school violence.

“Safety specialists” are tasked with fielding the alerts and identifying imminent threats to student safety. If one is found, the specialists immediately notifies chosen members of district staff or law enforcement, alleviating schools from the need to monitor alerts 24/7 and enabling intervention before an incident occurs.

Parents were notified of the contract on Tuesday.

“If an incident or “Alert” involving your child is deemed a credible issue, the district will contact you with any details in accordance with district policy,” the email read.

The cost of the pilot program will be covered by Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief grant, part of Covid-19 relief funds. The contract will last through the Schools 2023-2024 school year, and at that point, the district can evaluate the program’s success and move forward with another contract if they choose.

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