New York City Is Going To Test AI Gun Detectors On The Subway

In the middle of New York City’s busy life, an innovative project is set to take place. On Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams made public his plans to use AI-powered devices at subway turnstiles to identify weapons. This announcement comes after a recent altercation at a Brooklyn subway station that resulted in a guy being hurt by his gun. 

The city plans to improve subway security by collaborating with Evolv, a Massachusetts-based business known for its weapons detection systems used in numerous locations across the country. However, Evolv’s technology has been criticized; two government inquiries and a shareholder lawsuit have raised concerns about its accuracy. 

In compliance with the POST Act, which mandates that the New York City Police Department publish impact and use statements before implementing new technologies and reveal the technology it utilizes for surveillance, the pilot program will begin in ninety days. According to Adams, the city will screen additional vendors throughout the 90-day waiting period.  

Adams said, “This city has a mayor of technology.” “Bring your technology to us.” Let’s try it. 

Adams did not provide information about the locations or number of planned scanner placements. Currently, Lincoln Center, Citi Field, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art use Evolv scanners. In 2022, Adams temporarily installed an Evolv scanner outside City Hall in response to a metro shooting.  

In a similar vein, following an ER shooting, a Bronx hospital piloted Evolv technology. To improve school safety, some school districts nationwide have implemented Evolv scanners. Reports, however, show that there have been cases where the scanners mistook umbrellas for guns while missing altered steel and aluminum tubes that looked like rifle barrels. 

Although they resemble metal detectors, Evolv’s scanners are AI-powered. According to the manufacturer, the scanners employ “safe, ultra-low frequency, electromagnetic fields and advanced sensors to detect concealed weapons.” However, reports indicate that the technique isn’t that effective in practice. According to reports, Evolv’s scanners have identified umbrellas as firearms but have not identified steel and aluminum tubes sliced to resemble gun barrels.  

According to reports, Evolv’s devices mistook lunchboxes for explosives or missing blades in children’s bags, sparking outrage among school districts. 

IPVM revealed in 2022 that Evolv had the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security conduct tests, which Evolv then altered to remove information about low weapon detection rates. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission started a confidential inquiry in February, and the Federal Trade Commission opened a formal investigation into Evolv’s AI detection method in October. Investors also launched a lawsuit, claiming that Evolv had exaggerated the effectiveness of its product. 

Despite these problems, Mayor Adams prefers Evolv over other service providers, and several prominent backers have made significant investments in the company. 

Opponents of the pilot program contend that false alarms from gun detection systems frequently occur, and they are against using New York City as a test site without the public’s permission. 

While acknowledging the rarity of subway violence, Mayor Adams also pointed out a public feeling of increasing insecurity, highlighting the significance of maintaining public safety in the face of a statistical drop in crime rates. 

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