School districts in New York will start testing a new technology that can alert officials to students and teachers violating the state’s ban on vaping.
A measure banning the use of electronic cigarettes on school property passed in New York in July, treating the nicotine devices as any other tobacco product. School officials are now experimenting with a device that could help enforce the ban and catch teachers or students violating the rule, reports Fox 5.
The technology, called Fly Sense, can detect different levels of gas and moisture in the air that alert them to activity such as vaping or smoking. Schools plan to start testing the devices in September.
“If we get a spike above the line then we know if there’s an incident occurring,” Derek Peterson, CEO of Digital Fly, told Fox 5. “And we notify the officials.”
The technology sits inside a little box that can be installed in various places in schools, such as bathrooms. It is also designed to pick up changes in noise, which they say can help stop bullying. The device establishes a baseline for air quality and noise levels in the installed location, and sends a cell phone notification if it picks up an anomaly.
Representatives at Digital Fly stress the device does not have microphones and cannot record people.
“If someone is inside the bathroom and they vape, it will contaminate the air, our sensor will pick it up and it will alert somebody in real time, ‘Hey, there’s a problem here, your air is contaminated, somebody could be vaping, somebody could be smoking, send somebody to check it out,” Billy Schweigert, software developer for Digital Fly, told Fox 5.
Officials in New York generally take an adversarial stance towards vaping devices, often claiming youth use of e-cigarettes is getting out of control in the state. Anti-vaping groups often push the idea e-cigarettes have a “gateway effect” to smoking for young Americans.
A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15, however, revealed after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015, teens are now giving up the habit. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.
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