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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Tech

Watch an AI system instantly detect guns, direct security where to go

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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An artificial intelligence system created by a team of former Navy SEALs can detect guns that appear on security cameras and tell responding officers where to go when they arrive on scene. The company, Zero Eyes, is hoping to implement the system in schools around the country to be used as a proactive approach to school safety.

It started when one of the founder’s daughters had an active shooter drill at school shortly after the Parkland massacre.

“So we asked the school, ‘What are you doing with the security cameras I see outside the building and inside the building?’ And the answer was, ‘Nothing. We use them after a fistfight, we use them after a car is stolen, we use them hypothetically, after a mass shooting.’ So that was where the idea was born,” co-founder Sam Alaimo told Straight Arrow News. “How do we take this archaic technology, security cameras…How do we make it proactive? How do we make it so that that camera can see a gun before a shot is even fired and try to save a life?” 

Zero Eyes was founded in 2018. The team teaches the AI using an arsenal of fake weapons and a massive green screen stage the size of a three car garage. They walk around the stage holding weapons and then use special effects to make it appear as though they are in a school, office building, or casino. That teaches the system what firearms look like in different settings. 

“We basically used the different cameras, different lighting conditions, different weapon types, different carrying positions, different speeds, every variable we can think of in order to build our own organic database from the ground up,” Alaimo said. 

Rancocas Valley Regional High School in southern New Jersey was a guinea pig for the system. Superintendent Dr. Christopher Heilig decided to become a client after watching officers respond to an active shooter drill in his high school. It cut down the time it took to find and neutralize the shooter from three minutes to one minute. 

“Because you can use the technology to track that weapon through a building. And when you look at a school building, that’s over 300,000 square feet, you would need something like that,” Dr. Heilig told Straight Arrow News. 

Zero Eyes has an in house dispatch that views every image the system believes may be a weapon. It is staffed by ex-military and ex-law enforcement officers who receive an alert on their computer, view the freeze frame, magnify and then examine what the AI flagged as a possible gun. If it’s a false positive, they dismiss the alert. If it’s a firearm, they alert local police and the client so they can respond. 

The system will show exactly which camera detected the weapon and put a pinpoint on a map. If the shooter moves in front of a different camera, it will send another alert; creating “breadcrumbs” for responding officers to follow.  

On a 300,000 square foot campus like Rancocas, where there are 2,000 students, 250 staff, hundreds of doors and multiple buildings, no one person could ever monitor all the feeds that come in from their security cameras. When the system tells users there’s a gun and exactly where it is, the response time gets reduced significantly, which Zero Eyes and Heilig said saves lives. 

“God forbid a tragedy does happen in schools. You know, the decrease in response time decreases casualties. Our staff is trained in lockdowns and what they need to do. We’re very confident that if we did have an active shooter, that we would be able to minimize that to zero,” Heilig said.

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This is just a drill.

 

Put the gun down, put the gun down, Bang, bang, bang” 

 

Police ran through an active shooter scenario at a high school with two gunmen. 

 

All the way up the hallway to the right.” 

 

The officers knew the suspects’ exact locations. They neutralized one and ran straight down an adjacent hallway to find the second. 

 

bang, bang bang” 

 

Police were using Zero Eyes Artificial intelligence, which detects guns as they’re picked up on the security camera feed. A pinpoint is highlighted on a campus map, so responders know where to go. 

 

It was this drill that convinced Rancocas Valley Regional High School’s superintendent Dr. Christopher Heilig that he needed another layer of protection for his students.  

 

CHRISTOPHER HEILIG: “because the response time is minimized to almost nothing, because you can use the technology to track that weapon through a building. And when you look at a school building, that’s over 300,000 square feet, you would need something like that.”

 

Zero Eyes was founded in 2018 by a group of former Navy Seals and technology experts. It started after one of the founder’s children had an active shooter drill at school soon after the Parkland massacre. 

 

Sam Alaimo: “So we asked the school What are you doing with the security cameras? That’s the outside the building and inside the building? And the answer was nothing. We use them after a fistfight, we use them after a car is stolen, we use them hypothetically, after a mass shooting. So that was where the idea was born. How do we take this archaic technology security cameras and make it left the bank? How do we make it proactive? How do we make it so that that camera can see a gun before a shot is even fired, and try to save a life?”

 

They teach the AI using an arsenal of fake weapons and this green screen. 

 

It allows them to show the system what the firearms look like in different settings, including schools, office buildings and casinos. 

 

Sam Alaimo, Co-Founder of Zero Eyes: “We basically used the different cameras, different lighting conditions, different weapon types, different carrying positions, different speeds, every variable we can think of in order to build our own organic database from the ground up. “

 

When the system thinks it detected a gun, an alert comes to the Zero Eyes in house dispatch. A human, who is ex-military or ex-law enforcement views the freeze frame, magnifies the object and either dismisses a false positive, or confirms there’s a gun and begins the process of notifying law enforcement and the client so they can respond. These trained eyes move fast. 

 

“We don’t ever want our clients to get that false positive image, we only want them to get the real image.”

 

Zero Eyes performed this demonstration for Straight Arrow News. An employee posing as a shooter walked into their office gym, the system detected the gun, sent the alert to their dispatch, who would have informed law enforcement if it were real. It gave the exact location within their suite, which sits inside a sprawling 500 thousand square foot industrial office building. 

 

At Rancocas Valley High School’s 300,000 square foot campus there’s a lot to protect. 2,000 students, 250 staff, and hundreds of doors leading into multiple buildings. Dr. Heilig says Zero Eyes gives him confidence in the safety of his campus and helps him reassure parents and students. 

 

Dr. Christopher Heilig: “God forbid a tragedy does happen in schools. You know, the decrease in response time decreases casualties. Our staff is trained in lockdowns and what they need to do. We’re very confident that if we did have an active shooter, that we would be able to minimize that to zero.”