The article below is reproduced from the original that is located here and a interactive version is available here.
Published in Engineering News, by Schalk Burger, Senior Deputy Editor – 24th August 2020
A weapon detection system for concealed and openly carried weapons, such as knives and long guns, is being developed to protect public spaces, as well as temporary public events, using WiFi-based technology.
These capabilities for detecting suspicious metal items with wireless signals have already been demonstrated and the first version of the system will be released by the end of the year, says safety and security technology development company First Responder Technologies CEO Robert Delamar.
The system, which consists of a concealed weapon detection network and open-carry detection camera network, protects the perimeter and interior of public spaces, such as sports stadiums, campuses, public schools and open-air markets, and provides early warnings to security service providers when a dangerous weapon is detected, which will help to reduce incidents of crime.
The concealed weapon detection system is a walk-through virtual fence that creates a ‘mesh’ around the perimeter of a building or space where the public gathers. The virtual fence allows the detection of dangerous objects that are concealed on people without storing any personal identifying information.
Additionally, each of the concealed weapon detection bollards for the WiFi system can easily be carried by a person and set up to protect temporary events, such as entertainment events, sports events or commercial expositions.
“The product solves a specific problem. It provides usable information to security personnel in a chaotic situation in public spaces by identifying an armed person who may be intent on doing harm,” he says.
The system is designed to supplement existing security systems and expand their capabilities. It provides a walk-through detection capability that is discrete, helping to reduce avoidance of security checks, and replacing conventional metal detectors.
The First Responder system, designed to be part of an Internet of Things, can be used by first responders and security personnel on laptops and handheld devices, and can serve as either a stand-alone product or as part of a layered security system.
First Responder is developing this WiFi-based concealed weapons detection technology, based in part on academic research licensed from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
“A WiFi concealed weapons detection device could significantly rival or displace existing security systems and devices in the market by 2025. “First Responder’s WiFi Concealed Weapons Detection Device will be safer, and less costly to deploy than existing competitive technologies,” he says.
In early March, First Responder demonstrated a walk-through detection unit at the UK Home Office Expo, where it showcased metal detection and early warning; – two of the three capabilities it has identified as necessary to complete a properly functioning prototype.
Metal detection involves the detection of metal concealed in a bag, or on the person of an individual, when passing through the ‘virtual fence post’ bollards. The early warning capability involves triggering an alarm on a laptop or smartphone carried by a person in authority with access to the system, and enabling them to take defensive action, such as interdicting a suspect or locking a door.
The third capability to be added is size and shape detection of a concealed object.
First Responder aims to deliver a minimum viable product before the end of the year and it targets having an alpha tested product by November.
The system is expected to displace conventional metal detectors and enable people to be scanned entering premises or an area without them knowing they passed through a security check, which provides a clear advantage for security planners.
“At the heart of our company is the need to protect privacy and personal information, while improving security and safety of people. In this regard, the concealed weapon detection system only scans for concealed weapons and the camera uses artificial intelligence capabilities to scan for openly carried weapons, which eliminates potential discrimination by a human.
“It dramatically augments the situational awareness of security service providers and provides timely warnings, but final decisions can only be taken by an authorised security operator, in line with best practices and the use of technology to augment human capabilities.”
First Responder has also focused its efforts on the edge of the network and much of the processing takes place on the devices, while the system is designed to be deployed in the cloud.
Looking ahead, Delamar says fixed sensors and cameras will be predominant over the next five years, with mobile security products and capabilities becoming more common. First Responder’s long-term strategy is aligned with these expectations, and the fixed security systems will be supplemented by autonomous drones and sensors to improve human security.
Further, the computational power of these systems is expected to grow significantly within ten years, evolving from machine learning to advanced neural networks that can link many different signals to identify potential or hidden risks.
Delamar adds that the company will focus on all markets, and that it has identified strong markets in developing and developed markets. A key determining factor would be the presence of a service provider within a territory that can install, maintain and support its systems. “The First Responder system was designed to improve public security, including in South-East Asian and African markets,” he concludes.