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Artificial intelligence, or AI, is being used to help secure venues ranging from sports arenas to churches and schools. The technology is used to search for weapons including firearms, knives and explosives as people walk between standing signs. If a weapon is spotted, security on standby is alerted.
Massachusetts-based Evolv has used the technology to scan around 300 million people across the country since the system went live in 2019, second only to the TSA.
“Think of walking straight into a place, into a school, into a building without interrupting yourself,” said Peter George, CEO of Evolv, touting the technology as far less intrusive than traditional metal detectors. “And if you don’t have a weapon on you, you can go straight in. And if you do, we can identify him.”
Evolv’s technology is used in major sports stadiums, urban hospitals, schools, courts and large casinos, among others.
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“It’s a free-flow non-contact weapons detection system,” says Steve Morandi, vice president of product management at Evolv. “It really works with a combination of AI, advanced sensors and cameras in a really integrated way. And we’re basically detecting weapons against everyday metal objects that we all carry.”
Bay State-based Liberty Defense has combined AI technology with 3D imaging capable of hunting down non-metallic threats, such as gunpowder, pipe bombs or plastic ghost guns.
“We look for any type of anomaly, any type of threat that could be hidden,” said Bill Frain, CEO of Liberty Defense. “So whether it’s a gun or a knife or a plastic explosive that could cause damage or maybe even drugs or liquids.”
The new HEXWAVE system will be tested this summer at a Hindu temple near Atlanta, the University of Wisconsin and Toronto Pearson International Airport.
The proliferation of AI technology in security has alarmed critics.
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“What we don’t want to see is America turning into a society of checkpoints where we are searched every time we go to a public gathering in a church or whatever, a place of worship or a little league game or whatever,” says Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
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Regarding privacy concerns, Frain notes, “We don’t save any data. No images are stored.”
George says: “We use our artificial intelligence to distinguish between a phone and a gun, but we don’t look at people at all. We only look for weapons.”