Cleveland WJWZ-TV Video: Former Navy Seals develop Gun Detection Technology
Greensboro WGHP-TV Video: New System may help with Gun Violence
Philadelphia WTXF TV Video: A.I. Program to Prevent School Shootings
Minneapolis KARE-TV Video: School Shooting Solution
Associated Press: AI-powered cameras become new tool against mass shootings
By IVAN MORENO August 30, 2019
LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
Paul Hildreth peered at a display of dozens of images from security cameras surveying his Atlanta school district and settled on one showing a woman in a bright yellow shirt walking a hallway.
A mouse click instructed the artificial intelligence-equipped system to find other images of the woman, and it immediately stitched them into a video narrative of where she was currently, where she had been and where she was going.
There was no threat, but Hildreth’s demonstration showed what’s possible with AI-powered cameras. If a gunman were in one of his schools, the cameras could quickly identify the shooter’s location and movements, allowing police to end the threat as soon as possible, said Hildreth, emergency operations coordinator for the Fulton County School District.
AI is transforming surveillance cameras from passive sentries into active observers that can identify people, suspicious behavior and guns, amassing large amounts of data that help them learn over time to recognize mannerisms, gait and dress. If the cameras have a previously captured image of someone who is banned from a building, the system can immediately alert officials if the person returns.
At a time when the threat of a mass shooting is ever-present, schools are among the most enthusiastic adopters of the technology, known as real-time video analytics or intelligent video, even as civil liberties groups warn about a threat to privacy. Police, retailers, stadiums and Fortune 500 companies are also using intelligent video.
“What we’re really looking for are those things that help us to identify things either before they occur or maybe right as they occur so that we can react a little faster,” Hildreth said.
A year after an expelled student killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Broward County installed cameras from Canada-based Avigilon throughout the district in February. Hildreth’s Atlanta district will spend $16.5 million to put the cameras in its roughly 100 buildings in coming years.
In Greeley, Colorado, the school district has used Avigilon cameras for about five years, and the technology has advanced rapidly, said John Tait, security manager for Weld County School District 6.
Upcoming upgrades include the ability to identify guns and read people’s expressions, a capability not currently part of Avigilon’s systems.
“It’s almost kind of scary,” Tait said. “It will look at the expressions on people’s faces and their mannerisms and be able to tell if they look violent.”
Retailers can spot shoplifters in real time and alert security or warn of a potential shoplifter. One company, Athena-Security, has cameras that spot when someone has a weapon. And in a bid to help retailers, it recently expanded its capabilities to help identify big spenders when they visit a store.
It’s unknown how many schools have AI-equipped cameras because it’s not being tracked. But Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International , a nonprofit that advises schools on security, said “quite a few” use Avigilon and Sweden-based Axis Communications equipment “and the feedback has been very good.”
Schools are the largest market for video surveillance systems in the U.S., estimated at $450 million in 2018, according to London-based IHS Markit, a data and information services company. The overall market for real-time video analytics was estimated at $3.2 billion worldwide in 2018 — and it’s anticipated to grow to more than $9 billion by 2023, according to one estimate .
AI cameras have already been tested by some companies to evaluate consumers’ facial expressions to determine if they’re having a pleasant or unpleasant shopping experience and improve customer service, according to the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington nonprofit that advocates for privacy protections. Policy counsel Joseph Jerome said companies may someday use the cameras to estimate someone’s age, which might be useful for liquor stores, or facial-expression analysis to aid in job interviews .
Police in New York, New Orleans and Atlanta all use cameras with AI. In Hartford, Connecticut, the police network of 500 cameras includes some AI-equipped units that can, for example, search hours of video to find people wearing certain clothes or search for places where a suspicious vehicle was seen.
The power of the systems has sparked privacy concerns.
“The issue is personal autonomy and whether you’ll be able to go around walking in the public square or a shopping mall without tens, hundreds, thousands of people, companies and entities learning things about you,” Jerome said.
“People haven’t really caught up to how broad and deep the technology can now go,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union who published a research paper in June about how the cameras are being used. “When I explain it, people are pretty amazed and spooked.”
When it comes to the potential for stemming violence that may be less of an issue. Shannon Flounnory, executive director for safety and security for the Fulton County School District, said no privacy concerns have been heard there.
“The events of Parkland kind of changed the game,” he said. “We have not had any arguments or any pushback right now.”
ZeroEyes, a Philadelphia-based company, began testing gun-detection software last winter at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in New Jersey, which became a client. Since the company began selling their product this month, it said it’s signed up another four schools — in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.
The company also brought on a government agency in New York that it says it can’t name. Co-founder Rob Huberty said ZeroEyes will be marketing the product to “stadiums, shopping malls — anywhere with a potential for a mass shooting.”
Even supporters of these systems acknowledge the technology is not going to prevent all mass shootings — especially considering how quickly damage is done. But supporters argue they can at least help reduce the number of casualties by giving people more time to seek shelter and providing first responders with information sooner.
“This is just one thing that’s going to help everybody do their job better,” Huberty said.
Both ZeroEyes and Austin-based Athena-Security claim their systems can detect weapons with more than 90 percent accuracy but acknowledge their products haven’t been tested in a real-life scenario. And both systems are unable to detect weapons if they’re covered — a limitation the companies say they are working to overcome.
Stanley, with the ACLU, said there’s reason to be skeptical about their capabilities because AI is still “pretty unreliable at recognizing the complexities of human life.”
Facial recognition is not infallible, and a study last year from Wake Forest University found that some facial-recognition software interprets black faces as appearing angrier than white faces.
But the seemingly endless cycle of mass shootings is compelling consumers to see technology — untested though it may be — as a possible solution to an intractable problem.
After a gunman killed 51 people in attacks at two mosques in New Zealand in March, Athena-Security installed gun-detection cameras at one of the mosques in June. Fahad A.B. Al-Ameri, a Qatari businessman with no affiliation to the mosque, paid for them because “all people should be secure going to their houses of worship,” he said.
Of the 50 clients Athena-Security has, about a fourth are schools, said company co-founder Chris Ciabarra.
“It’s a matter of saving lives,” he said.
Ivan Moreno is AP’s Milwaukee correspondent. AP video journalist Cody Jackson contributed from Atlanta.
Weapons Detection Technology
A recent article in the Intelligencer, “Area school districts eyeing up weapons detection systems” provides great insight into the ZeroEyes solution. Writer Christian Menno covers the story. There is a clear need for added layers of security within school systems now. A growing trend of active shooter scenarios and rising anxiety about such events is the root cause. Weapons detection technology makes it possible for school officials to have greater situational awareness than ever before.
Menno’s article covers a recent demonstration ZeroEyes performed for Access Security. ZeroEyes’ Dustin Brooks and Sam Alaimo are both former Navy SEALs. This military experience uniquely equips the ZeroEyes team to address these dangerous situations. Brooks says, “We know what an active shooter scenario looks like…we know what these people involved are thinking and how they feel.” This is their greatest differentiator compared to other weapons detection solutions on the market.
Putting Weapons Detection To The Test
One of the challenges with this kind of technology is being able to test it’s accuracy. For the last several months, ZeroEyes has been developing its machine learning algorithm at Rancocas Valley Regional High School. Periodically the ZeroEyes team shows up on site with plastic guns they show to existing security cameras. In addition, the images are processed in real time using ZeroEyes AI software. From these images, the machine learns how to better detect weapons on camera. Over time the AI becomes stronger, and better able to perform its function.
One of the integral parts of this detection system are the alerts. ZeroEyes’ system is not only able to identify weapons, but they can capture information and send it to the appropriate authorities. The information a security camera captures includes things like: the number of shooters, what weapons they have, where they are located, where they are going, etc. This is vital information for first responders or on-site security officers. However, without that kind of intelligence, people are largely moving blind. Therefore, this new kind of data could save seconds, which can save lives.
One of the attendees at the demonstration was Val Ridge, Bensalem’s safety and security coordinator. Previously, Ridge was a Bensalem police officer for about 11 years. Ridge said,
“If we can provide that one extra layer of security, I’m looking for it…these guys have lived it. They know it. Seconds matter. They understand what those seconds mean.”
Another impressed attendee was Tony Keokham, Neshaminy’s Facilities Supervisor. He referred to weapons detection as the “first line of defense.” It is definitely not the sole or only line of defense, but it can provide a tremendous amount of security and peace of mind.
What Is Gun Detection Tech?
In some sense this is a straightforward phrase. Gun detection tech is software that can read camera feeds to detect if a gun is present. Security cameras are fed into a computer and analyzed using an algorithm to determine whether or not a gun is on camera. ZeroEyes then sends that information to the appropriate authorities.
Schools in America desperately need something like this to help protect students and teachers. In the past 20 years there have been far too many incidents of violence on school properties. ZeroEyes is a company which was founded by former Navy SEALs. The mission of the company is to stop school shootings. Recently, Caleb Jones of ZeroEyes sat down with WBIR NBC 10 to discuss the company.
Caleb says, “I can’t think of a more difficult problem to solve, or a more impactful problem than the violence that we’re seeing in school today.” Watch the full news story here:
Gun Detection Tech Innovation
What Caleb says is true. “Something has to be done now…” In like manner, too many conversations about this topic devolve into a political argument. ZeroEyes provides a part of the solution. Theirs enables cameras to see guns. Security cameras can become even more powerful with this technology. “In a nutshell it’s a – a weapon is seen on a camera, the computer identifies that, sends the alert…” Ultimately technology like this will give first responders more time. Additionally, we need to find ways to get this technology into schools affordably.
That potential could save valuable seconds at a crucial time.
“A computer never gets complacent…”
Gun detection tech is secure. It is constantly learning. Over time ZeroEyes gun detection tech will actually improve. Therefore it will never get complacent. “Again, if you’re holding a stick like a gun, even the human’s gonna be like, ‘hey is that a gun?'”
This company exists to provide people predictive, preventative support. There is no way to predict when a school shooting will occur. The only way to prepare for it is to have the best possible information in the hands of the people who need it most. Quickly. At the end of the day it’s about saving lives.
Caleb says it best when he says,
“…if we could save one life I would call it the greatest success of…my life.”