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Back to School? Look Out for Covid-Tracking Surveillance Tech


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Artist's conception of using technology to protect students from the coronavirus.

Many schools plan to rely on surveillance systems to enforce social distancing, detect fevers or help with contact tracing.

Credit: A. Richard Allen

Surveillance technology deployed in schools to prevent or contain coronavirus infection raises issues about its effectiveness, as well as its post-pandemic applications.

Some technologies, like Motorola Solutions' security and communications systems, are part of existing school security, modified to identify students on camera not wearing masks and tell how far apart they are, as an example.

Motorola Solutions' Mahesh Saptharishi said his company also offers software that can help with contact tracing by detecting physical characteristics like height or shirt color.

Meanwhile, Raptor Technologies has enhanced its automated visitor and volunteer management systems by adding customizable health-screening questions to check-in kiosks.

University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo expressed concern over whether such measures will be employed for potentially invasive uses like truancy detection after the Covid-19 crisis passes.

"Often when measures are introduced for a specific purpose, they linger on because people become acclimated," said Calo.

From The Wall Street Journal
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