SPARTA, NJ – After publishing an article about the Sparta school district testing HALO Smart Sensor smoke detectors, TAPinto Sparta was contacted by a representative for the company.  Rick Cadiz, Head of Marketing for IPVideo Corporation that produces HALO “wanted to clarify a few things in the article that the district stated.”

Superintendent Michael Rossi said the device had the capability of hearing “trigger words” such as those that are “hurtful or threatening” at the June board of education meeting.

“The devices are not listening or recording any conversations,” Cadiz said. “They measure audio levels and analyze abnormal behavior and alert to this data.”

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According to Cadiz the device “records decibel levels only and correlates it to time of day.” He said it will analyze the noise levels throughout the day and start learning what is normal for the environment.  In a bathroom, for example, he said “it would know when blow dryers are on and doors and shut and other standard sound levels.”  When the sound levels deviate from what the device has “learned” to be normal, it sends email and/or texts to security who can investigate, including looking as security video in the adjacent hallways.

When asked for a comment on Cadiz’s clarification Rossi said, “I don't know this person but he and I are saying the same thing.  The system can identify certain words, hurt words, racist words, etc., and can identify intonation.  At least that is what the webinar represented.” 

At the June board of education meeting Superintendent Michael Rossi said they were going to test technology that could identify various components of smoke including from e-cigarettes, cigarettes and marijuana.  Rossi said he had participated in a webinar for the product that could be installed in places where there cannot be cameras, such as locker rooms and bathrooms. 

At the meeting board of education member Michael McGovern said, “I am not comfortable with listening technology," when Rossi said it could hear "trigger words."

Rossi said the devices “have the capability but we don’t have to use it.”

Cadiz also corrected Rossi’s explanation of how many districts are currently using this product.  Rossi said only seven or eight districts in the country are using it, with only one in New Jersey.  Cadiz said, “The device is being used by hundreds of schools across the country who are using the devices, the 7/8 figure may have come from the New Jersey districts using.”