Thursday, March 23Welcome

Gun-Detection Tech Adams Fails Stress Test, But City Hall Interest Continues

On a rainy afternoon this week, a row of Evolv Technology gun detectors installed at the entrance of a Manhattan museum beeped repeatedly, turning red each time a visitor activated the sleek gray machine as they passed. The lights flashed.

A red light signaled a hit—detection of a cylindrical metal object that could be a firearm. Most of the “weapons” were umbrellas in hand, so the guards waved at the visitors without paying much attention.

As the crowds of drenched visitors to the museum increased, THE CITY also observed dozens of visitors without visible umbrellas, and machines waving their way through.

It is unknown what set the machine in motion.

THE CITY has not disclosed the location of the museum, but tech industry publication IPVM recently tested Evolv’s performance at this same location, making it look like a gun barrel without triggering an alarm. I was able to run multiple aluminum tubes that had been cut to size through the scanner.

Evolv CEO Peter George says the scanner will detect “all guns, all bombs, all large tactical knives,” but IPVM says the museum’s results indicate that the machine is not the presence of handguns or pipe bombs. It warns that it indicates not to register the . Made of non-ferrous (meaning “free of iron”) materials.

Despite concerns about Evolv’s effectiveness, Mayor Eric Adams promised to find an efficient way to red flag individuals carrying firearms in public before they wreak havoc. Technology was at the top of the list of solutions.

Albert Fox Cahn, director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), a technology oversight group, says relying on technology to reduce the threat of gun violence does not give New Yorkers a false sense of security. I’m concerned. And it could make things worse, he argues.

“The idea that this is some sort of quick technical fix to a nightmare is nothing but smoke and mirrors,” he said. “We continue to be concerned that the city is being sold on pseudoscientific surveillance that does not really serve the city and can cost millions of dollars. It’s error-prone, invasive, and can lead to a ton of stops and frisks.”

Surveillance and safety

The Massachusetts-based company says its technology can distinguish harmless metal objects, such as keys and laptops, from potentially harmful objects, such as handguns. This allows individuals to get through without removing items from their pockets. The process is less invasive than other methods, Adams claims.

“We have to get smarter,” the mayor said at a Feb. 23 press conference on an unrelated issue, adding, “We are testing a device that will allow us to identify guns and weapons in a humane way. ‘ said.

And he vowed to deploy this technology widely.

“Everyone is asking about this device. We want to test it properly and we are testing it now,” he added. I’m going to put it in the school so that it can be done.”

City Hall has yet to sign a contract with Evolv, but since mid-February, the company’s scanners have been screening visitors to the emergency room at the city-run Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. January 24th.

Responding to THE CITY’s question on Wednesday, Christopher Miller, spokesman for the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, said the HHC “will continue to consider expanding this type of technology to other hospitals in the system.” “Evolv Technologies at Jacobi Hospital’s emergency department continues to provide enhanced security for everyone.”

City Hall also has an Evolv scanner, and Adams also talked about installing an Evolv scanner in the subway. The mayor says he will look into viable systems, but so far he’s only mentioned one, Evolv.

In an email reply to THE CITY, Mayor’s spokesperson Kate Smart claimed that the mayor’s office had spoken to numerous companies that manufacture gun detection devices, saying that Evolv was “a ballpark. , museums,” said it has already been introduced in many private sector spots around the city. , hospitals and other venues.”

“Mayor Adams has made it clear that public safety is a top priority and has repeatedly advocated and will continue to advocate for technology that keeps New Yorkers safe in a legal and responsible manner.” Smart writes. “This, or any other technology we use, is just one tool in his tool belt to protect the New Yorker.”

“Secret handshake”

Adams told the Daily News that he found the company on the Internet and by February 7, Deputy Mayor Adams had scheduled his first meeting with Philip Banks, who was responsible for discovering the gun detection solution. at Evolv. Banks then contacted two more companies to provide gun detectors, but none were as good as Evolv, as Banks’ daily schedule record through May shows.

Philip Banks at City Hall

As THE CITY recently reported, Banks’ schedule included four meetings on Evolv, including checking Evolv scanners at the Lincoln Center and Jacobi Hospital. This was one meeting with a company called Zero Eyes and none with a company called Omnilert.

In addition, Evolv hired a lobbyist, Urban Strategies, to seek city government support for the system. Lobbyist records filed by Urban Strategies list banks as targets of lobbying for a “pilot program to test gun-detection technology at priority locations” in May and June.

Another spokesman for the mayor, Fabien Levy, claimed Banks had not met with Evolv executives, even though Banks’ calendar had four meetings on it. In response to THE CITY’s question, Levy wrote: As such, the deputy mayor met with many technology companies to learn about their products. ”

Evolv CEO Peter George recently said a former member of the NYPD is leading Evolv’s sales team in New York City. He was referring to Dominick D’Orazio, who is listed on LinkedIn as his Evolv’s “NYC metro area” sales head.

In a speech at a tech conference in June, George emphasized the benefits of having cops pushing products in New York City, saying the salesman was “an NYPD cop who knows who we’re selling to.” I understand that, so he’s a really good salesman.” He has a secret handshake. ”

From February 2008 to June 2009, D’Orazio reported to Phil Banks, Commander of Brooklyn South and then Deputy Chief of Patrol for Brooklyn Borough South. Banks, through Levi, denied ever meeting with Drazio in his role as Evolve’s sales representative.

Evolv’s chief marketing officer, Dana Loof, wrote about CEO George’s mention of the “secret handshake”: The former law enforcement officer is well-versed in the layered approach required to mitigate threats, and he is particularly well-equipped to discuss Evolv technology within the context of broader security planning. Mr. Drazio understands the mindset of police officers who are dedicated to keeping the public safe every day and the challenges they face in the urban public safety environment. ”

imperfect technology

The mayor’s scramble to find a viable gun detection system comes after three disturbing incidents earlier this year. In April, a man shot indiscriminately in an N train subway car, hitting 10 people, and in May, he was fatally injured by shooting at his hanger on a Q train for no apparent reason. There is a man who lost

And a broader trend is underway. The number of citywide shootings began to decline this year, but that was after a sharp and alarming surge that began before the pandemic. The number of incidents increased from 697 in 2018 to 754 in 2019 and then spiked during the pandemic, reaching 1,515 by the end of 2020.

Last year’s annual figure rose slightly to 1,546, after which the number of mass shootings fell, standing at 1,048 by Sunday, compared with 1,208 in the same period last year.

The reversal occurred as the number of gun arrests rose to 3,170 by August from 3,036 in the same period last year. But a June Supreme Court ruling declared New York’s strict firearms permitting protocol unconstitutional, raising the possibility that more people would walk the streets of New York City with concealed handguns, increasing the risk of gun detection. promotion was activated.

Connor Healy, research director of IPVM, a video surveillance research group, said testing Evolv’s system in New York City warned that there is no magic solution to the threat of public gun violence. It should serve as

In June, IPVM researchers successfully smuggled 8-inch to 10.5-inch aluminum tubes hidden in backpacks into the museum three times without activating the scanner. When the IPVM staff brought in the same length of steel pipe, an alarm sounded.

Healy noted several instances in which weapons were made of aluminum rather than steel. That included the case of a Vermont man who was charged in May after his 10-inch pipe bomb filled with explosives was found in his home by police. ”

“What we found was that Evolv didn’t detect what it said it would detect. It’s not true,” Healy said. “What is it [the Adams administration] We need to know when they buy Evolv, but that’s not what Evolv says. ”

Healy said three people were shot dead last month at an amusement park called Kennywood, outside Pittsburgh, for using Evolv scanners to tag firearms at the entrance. Police arrested a teenager as a suspected shooter on Thursday and said it’s not yet known how the weapon got into the park, but either it was thrown over a fence or someone jumped over it and brought it in. He said it was possible.

Evolv’s Loof said in an email: True security experts in the industry know that there is science in testing equipment using real weapons and weapon imitations that combine ferrous and non-ferrous metals (and other materials) in very specific combinations and shapes. I understand ”

Loof writes that Evolv’s scanner has been designated as “eligible counter-terrorism technology” under the US Department of Homeland Security Security Act and has received a new product award from the Security Industry Association.

Regarding the Kennywood shooting, Roof noted that an investigation is ongoing, stating, “The victims of the Kennywood shooting and all the individuals, families and children affected by the trauma surrounding this incident. We share our concerns with .We are deeply committed to our mission to make places where people gather safer.”

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