Building Fortress America

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Combatting Mass Shootings with Artificial Intelligence Instead of Checkpoints

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By Rupa Shah & Richard Ryan – Advisors to Athena Security, Inc.

Gun violence and mass shootings are an epidemic. Until we figure out how to prevent them, we need to continue to take steps to deter these in-human events and to mitigate loss of life when they do occur. We can lock down everything and accept limits to our liberty in return for more security. Using innovative technology, like the Athena Video Weapon Detection System, will provide better security and place fewer limits on our liberty. If you are concerned about vulnerabilities to gun violence in the places that you frequent, you should inform protection officials about this technology. It is here now and affordable. You can make a difference.

How can we protect ourselves from gun violence? The statistics show a scary trend. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were over 57,000 gun incidents in the US in 2018. There have been nearly 5,000 thousand already in 2019. Mass shootings, which are incidents where 4 or more people are killed or injured, totaled 341 for 2018 and there have been 31 so far in 2019.

Believing that “it won’t happen here” is starting to look very foolish.

It is still more likely to be struck by lightning or to be seriously injured in an auto accident than to be a casualty in a mass shooting. We go indoors to avoid lightning during a storm. We wear safety belts and drive safe vehicles to mitigate our exposure to serious injury when driving. What are we doing to deter gun incidents and mitigate casualties when they occur?

Significant progress has already been made to harden so called “soft targets” like office buildings, schools, shopping malls and entertainment venues. Video surveillance, access control, increased security personnel and well planned and rehearsed response procedures are just a few of the widespread improvements that have been made to protect us. But how far can we take the “hardening” process until we become “Fortress America”?

Locking every door, stationing guards at every entrance checking ID’s, checkpoints and metal detectors everywhere may make us safer. Are we willing to trade reduced liberty for increased security? We don’t have to because the land of the free and the home of the brave is also a hot bed of technology innovation. Artificial intelligence(AI) technology based applications are the place we can look to preserve our liberty and security.
Video surveillance is now widespread and is a great place for technology innovation. Every facility and many homes have video surveillance. Cameras are everywhere creating a flood of video information that must be monitored closely.

AI is a trendy term for computer systems performing tasks that normally require human intelligence….like video perception. See something; recognize it; do something about it. AI can perform tasks that humans cannot effectively perform over long periods like staring at multiple camera feeds 24/7 looking for bad guys.
The response to most gun incidents begins with a gunshot or a 911 call. Analysis of past events tells us that it takes from 3 to 12 minutes for authorities to be alerted to these incidents. Because shooting incidents can be over in 5 minutes, most of them do their damage before police arrive.

Suppose a computer system could recognize a weapon and alert authorities within seconds? What could authorities do with an extra 5 minutes to responds to these horrible events? This might seem like a scene from the future, but it is here today, and it is affordable.

Austin Texas based, Athena Security, Inc. has just launched an AI video weapon detection system that works with most surveillance camera systems that are already in place. The video weapon detection system monitors camera feeds and recognizes drawn weapons within 4 seconds of seeing them. Once a weapon is recognized, an alert is sent to security resources via a smartphone app. This alert can be escalated to police.
Responders are provided with the Who, When, What and Where including images at the same time. This system takes a mass shooting response that starts after precious minutes are already gone and changes that to seconds. How many events could be stopped and how many lives could be saved with this extra time?

The Athena video weapon detection system addresses one of the most significant challenges faced by responding agencies and incident commanders. Mass shooting incidents typically generate a great deal of incorrect information. For example, many witnesses at the scene may telephone police and provide conflicting or unclear reports about the appearance and location of a shooter or shooters. It can be difficult for police to determine how many shooters in fact are present. Having the Who, When, What and Where including images from the Athena system will help to quickly organize the collection of information so incorrect reports can be sorted out.

The Athena system is already in place or being tested in several different venues including schools, office/ workplaces, gaming/entertainment and retail.

Athena is continually increasing the system capabilities. Building on the system’s current 99% accuracy in recognizing drawn weapons, new releases are scheduled for 2019. These enhancements include a mapping capability to help responders pinpoint and track the location of threats and the ability to recognize fights when they start since they often escalate to gun violence. Facial recognition is also targeted for near term release.
There isn’t any doubt that the epidemic of gun violence especially mass shootings has changed our society and the way we live. Until we figure out how to prevent mass shootings, we need to take steps to deter them and to mitigate the loss of lives when they do occur. Building “Fortress America” with technology innovations, like the Athena Video Weapon Detection System, will let us balance liberty and security. The Athena Video Weapon Detection System is available now and uses surveillance camera systems already in place.

If you are concerned about vulnerability to gun violence in the places that you work, learn, worship, shop or have fun, please inform the people responsible for protection about this technology. It could make a difference in your life.

About the authors:
Rupa Shah and Richard Ryan are experienced technology executives that have successfully led massive technology and organizational change projects. Now they are helping technology start ups to make a difference in the world.