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AI Screening Portals Could Help Prevent School Shootings

With little progress on gun control measures in Congress, next-generation weapons detection technologies could prove to be a potential deterrent to mass shootings. In theory, if authorities could use artificial intelligence to spot guns or identify potential shooters earlier, they might be able to head off gun violence like the school massacres in Uvalde, Tx., Oxford, Mi., and Parkland, Fl, Axios reports. Critics say AI surveillance systems aren't effective, and they worry about other issues, including the technology's record of bias, particularly against people of color. Many Republicans, including former President Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have called for tougher school security measures, including single points of entry, metal detectors, more school police and armed teachers. Metal detectors can clog entrances, which could make students more vulnerable to attack. Security cameras aren't routinely monitored — they're more likely to be a source of evidence after an incident.

Some companies are promoting AI technologies as a less obtrusive and more effective alternative to metal detectors and other systems. Evolv uses a combination of ultra-low frequency electromagnetic fields and advanced sensors to detect concealed weapons as people walk through a portal. The high-speed screening system is already in use at several sports arenas, entertainment venues and theme parks. North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, with 150,000 students, is installing the scanners at a cost of $1.7 million over three years. It's not foolproof: Evolv's system generated false positives from certain Google Chromebook laptops. Hexwave, developed at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology lab and licensed by Liberty Defense Holdings, is a similar system. It uses 3D imaging and AI to detect concealed weapons as people walk between two panels. It can detect both metallic and non-metallic objects like 3D printed guns, and plastic or liquid explosives, but is also trained to recognize ordinary objects like cell phones, wallets or keys. Trials will begin in August at five locations: Toronto's Pearson International airport, the Port of Tampa's cruise ship terminal, Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a major Hindu temple near Atlanta and the University of Wisconsin.


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