2 min read

AI is everywhere and now it’s helping monitor kid’s activities to maintain safety across different schools and prevent school shooting incidents. An AI startup called Securly, co-founded by Vinay Mahadik and Bharath Madhusudan focusses on student safety with the help of features such as web filtering, cyberbullying monitoring, and self-harm alerts.

Its cloud-based web filters maintain an age-appropriate internet, monitors bullying and ensures that schools remain CIPA-compliant. Another feature called ‘auditor’ in Securly uses Google’s Gmail service to send alerts when the risk of bullying or self-harm is detected. There’s also a tipline feature that sends anonymous tips to students over phone, text, or email.  

The machine learning algorithms used by Securly are trained by safety specialists using safe and unsafe content. So, once the algorithms find any content as disturbing, the 24×7 student safety experts evaluate further context behind the activity and reach out to schools and authorities as needed.

Securly raised $16m in Series B round of funding last month. The company managed to raise $24 million and was led by Defy Partners. The company now wants to use these funds to amp up their research and development further in K-12 safety.

Moreover, Mahadik is also focussing on technologies that can be used across schools without hampering kids’ privacy. He told Forbes, ”You could say show me something that happened on the playground where a bunch of kids punched or kicked a certain kid. If you can avoid personally identifying kids and handle the data responsibly, some tech like this could be beneficial”. Securly currently has over 2,000 paid school districts using its free Chromebook filtering and email auditing services.

However, public reaction to the news isn’t entirely positive as many people are criticizing the startup of shifting the focus from the real issue ( i.e. providing kids with much-needed counseling and psychological help, implementing family counseling programs, etc ) and is instead promoting tracking every kid’s move to make sure they don’t ever falter. Securly is not the only surveillance service that has received heavy criticism. Predictim, an online service that uses AI to analyze risks associated with a babysitter, also got under the spotlight, over the concerns of its biased algorithms and for violating the privacy of the babysitters.

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