Security Systems Designed to Detect Concealed Weapons Increasing Public Safety

- January 16th, 2020

Wi-fi-based security systems are being designed to detect concealed weapons in order to preserve public safety at major events.

Innovative security systems are incorporating new technologies like Wi-Fi to detect concealed weapons and improve public safety.

Passing through a security checkpoint used to be something that most civilians only had to do at airports. Today, the process has become a common part of attending most major public events. In recent years, multiple tragic incidents have underscored the necessity of increased vigilance when it comes to keeping the public safe. Fortunately, new developments in concealed weapons detection technology could give personnel charged with public safety more effective tools for rooting out threats, while making the process easier for all involved.

In order to keep public spaces safe from the threat of concealed weapons, police and security personnel are trained to identify signs that a person is attempting to hide something, and this can require specialized tools. Research conducted at Iowa State University in 2017 found that even with the highest levels of training, police officers were unlikely to be able to identify a person with a concealed weapon based on visual clues alone. There are no definitive behavioral cues that can accurately indicate when someone is concealing a weapon, and a wide range of variables could complicate such an assessment. In order to reduce the potential for human error and improve the capabilities of security personnel, companies have begun to develop solutions to address the threat of concealed weapons.

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Security systems reinventing concealed weapons detection

For decades, the go-to method of concealed weapon detection has been the standard metal detector checkpoint. This system has been in place at airports and other secure buildings for decades; however, metal detectors have their own critical flaws. Metal detectors make no distinction between weapons and other metals that someone is likely to have on their person like keys or belt buckles, requiring people going through checkpoints to remove these items in advance. The detectors often need to be used in conjunction with expensive and invasive X-ray machines or security personnel manually checking baggage. These additional measures can result in an inefficient and expensive system, often creating bottlenecks at security entry points.

Fortunately, new technologies have the potential to make concealed weapon detection a more effective and less expensive process, enabling law enforcement and security personnel to prevent future threats in public spaces. North American companies Evolv Technology  and Patriot One Technologies (TSX:PAT) are developing systems that use millimeter-wave sensors and radar, respectively, to map out metallic objects in the area, including those on persons and within bags. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is then used to detect whether any of those shapes match the profile of a knife, firearm or explosive device. Evolv Technology recently announced it had raised over US$30 million in funding to continue to develop its Evolv Edge and Express technologies.

Both of the aforementioned technologies could be vast improvements over antiquated weapons detection methods, but they could also have one key issue. The use of millimeter-wave sensors and radar signals are subject to significant regulatory oversight, which could add significant red tape to the process of their deployment.

Security systems leveraging Wi-Fi technology

First Responder Technologies (CSE:WPN) is working on a weapons detection technology to provide a lower-cost security solution that can be deployed without regulatory hurdles. “The goal is to have a cost-effective and widely-deployable system that can detect the very worst harms before a mass shooter or a terrorist is able to enter,”  said First Responder CEO Robert Delamar in an interview with the Investing News Network. In 2018, researchers at Rutgers University demonstrated how Wi-Fi signals can be used similarly to radiofrequency technology to identify dangerous concealed objects. According to researchers, the system works even when concealed objects are wrapped in material and placed in backpacks. Experiments with 15 types of objects and six types of bags demonstrated detection accuracy rates of 99 percent for dangerous objects, 98 percent for metal and 95 percent for liquid. For typical backpacks, the accuracy rate exceeds 95 percent and drops to about 90 percent when objects inside bags are wrapped.

According to Yingying (Jennifer) Chen, Wi-Fi threat detection systems could be set up inexpensively and reduce the need for manual bag checks. “In large public areas, it’s hard to set up expensive screening infrastructure like what’s in airports,” said electrical and computer engineering professor and study co-author Chen. “Manpower is always needed to check bags and we wanted to develop a complementary method to try to reduce manpower.”

First Responder Technologies has licensed the Wi-Fi concealed threat detection technology from Rutgers and is commercializing the technology. “Wi-Fi technology uses an unlicensed spectrum and more affordable existing chips and antennas, all of which give us the ability to deploy faster than competitive systems. This makes our solution a better option for mass deployment to protect soft targets,” Delamar said. With fewer regulatory hurdles associated with Wi-Fi compared to other threat detection methods, the company is hopeful that it will be able to bring its system to market faster than its competitors and at a lower cost.

Takeaway

Police and security personnel are routinely charged with maintaining public safety and eliminating all threats to the public. In order to protect the public from advanced threats like concealed weapons, police and security personal require efficient and accurate tools. The latest advancements in concealed weapon detection technology have the potential to enhance public safety while making the process as seamless and stress-free as possible.


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