AI Helps Cops Detect Guns on the Subway

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New York City will soon test out new AI technology that detects guns at subway turnstiles, an initiative led by Mayor Eric Adams.

NY state and local leaders have reportedly been trying to improve safety underground. Officials say transit crime is up 4% so far in 2024 compared to the previous year, and up 8% compared to 14 years ago.

CNBC states that following increasing violence in the subways of the city, Adams announced the plan to purchase mobile weapons detectors for the transit system. The pilot will start in three months because of the POST Act, which requires the NYPD to disclose any surveillance technologies it uses and publish impact and use statements before implementing them. However, this system might not be as efficient as it is supposed to be.

According to Cybernews, the weapons detection company behind this AI-equipped detector is called Evolv, the products of which are already being used in schools and venues across the US. There are, however, several problems, including the accuracy of Evolv’s machines, two government probes, and a class action lawsuit by shareholders.

Evolv claims their scanners use “safe, ultra-low frequency, electromagnetic fields, and advanced sensors to detect concealed weapons,” and can allegedly detect almost any type of weapon. However, the company’s scanners have previously failed to spot steel and aluminum tubes that were cut to look like gun barrels, did not detect knives in students’ backpacks, but flagged umbrellas as guns and mistakenly identified lunch boxes as bombs.

Another controversy was revealed back in 2022 when security and surveillance industry research group IPVM reported that Evolv paid for the testing of their products and then edited the report while calling it “fully independent.” It comes as no surprise then that the Federal Trade Commission opened an official inquiry into whether Evolv’s AI detection system works as advertised.

Lastly, in March 2024, investors filed a class action lawsuit against Evolv claiming the company had misrepresented the efficacy of its scanners and “deceived the general public, customers, and investors.”