AI-Powered Camera to Combat Mass Shooters
Thu, April 22, 2021

AI-Powered Camera to Combat Mass Shooters

The ability of AI to mimic human speech has been creeping onto camera technologies for the last few years / Photo by only4denn via 123RF


Artificial intelligence has been helping drive major economic expansions across the world. The recent “State of AI in the Enterprise” survey conducted by Deloitte, a multinational professional services network, reported that AI technology will exert a huge effect on economic development. About 63 percent of the respondents said that AI technologies are critically important to the success of a lot of businesses today, which will reach 81 percent of their total number in the next two years.

Over 76 percent of the respondents believe that AI empowers people to make better decisions while 75 percent believed that human workers and AI technologies will augment each other to produce new ways of working. Organizations are using a variety of AI technologies to achieve their goals, including machine learning (61 percent), natural language processing (60 percent), computer vision (56 percent), and deep learning (51 percent). 

The ability of AI to mimic human speech has been creeping onto camera technologies for the last few years. Cameras now are smaller, smarter, and better than ever. In the US alone, there are nearly 50 million surveillance cameras installed. These devices could collect and store video, and they can be transformed into robot guards that actively and constantly watch people. 

AI-powered cameras, along with facial recognition technology, take security to a new level. According to Big Data Made Simple, a leading tech portal in big data, data analytics, AI, machine learning, and data science landscape, facial recognition algorithms boast an astounding 99.98 percent accuracy for both photos and videos. And this could dramatically address one of the most prevailing issues in the US: mass shootings.


Preventing Mass Shootings

Despite the decline of mass shootings since the 1990s, these tragedies still happen across the US, and the theater has never loomed larger in the minds of the parents. According to ZDNet, a business technology news website, a PDK poll reported that 34 percent of parents worry about their child's physical safety at school, which is a three-time increase since 2013. Various technologies have been offered to mitigate gun violence. For instance, schools in many states are equipped with metal detectors.

The challenge, however, is for administrators and technologists to introduce new equipment designed to increase safety without militarizing schools or compromising the privacy of the students. Gary Zimmaro, president of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, PA, said, "The feeling of safety is palpable on campus knowing that we have the best weapon detection security camera system in the world watching over our children every second of the day. In addition to providing an excellent education, we have a duty and a responsibility to keep our students safe."

Recently, an AI-powered camera system has been introduced. Aside from identifying guns in crowds, these devices can alert police to the presence of an active shooter, potentially reducing response time. Many companies are investing in intelligent security. This includes Austin-startup Athena Security ($5.5 million), Israeli firm AnyVision ($74 million), and Canada’s Patriot One Technologies ($65 million). They hope that this emerging technology will help save lives in a mass shooting.

Aside from identifying guns in crowds, AI cameras can alert police to the presence of an active shooter / Photo by lightpoet via 123RF


Athena’s system, which is powered by the NVIDIA 2080 RTX graphics card, was created through a computer vision algorithm that continuously monitors cameras without reporting too many false positives. This addresses the weakness of AI gun detection technology before. Also, the AI-powered security cameras have improved image recognition, a technology that attempts to identify what’s in the photos or videos. This aims to determine the often-overlooked factors during mass shootings: deadly weapons and suspicious behavior that signal an impending violent act. 

AP News, the definitive source for independent journalism from every corner of the globe, reported that the AI-powered security cameras gather large amounts of data that help authorities in recognizing the mannerisms, gait, and clothing of suspicious people. At the same time, these devices can immediately alert officials if the person who is banned from a building returns. Paul Hildreth, an emergency operations coordinator, said, “What we’re really looking for are those things that help us to identify things either before they occur or maybe right as they occur so that we can react a little faster.”


The Danger of AI-Powered Cameras

A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit organization that aims to "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States,” said that the advancements in AI and facial recognition could present civil rights issues. It suggests that we are creating a world where computers are monitoring our lives. 

According to The New Stack, an online site that analyzes how the new stack affects enterprise and enterprise startups, the report warns humans that devices like these not only monitor our actions but also recognizes emotions, behaviors, and “the patterns of our movements” that would design a society of “frighteningly perceptive and insightful computer watchers monitoring our lives.” This could be possible since today’s most sophisticated cameras offer ultra-high resolution and night-vision sensors. Aside from that, AI is now being used to increase the resolution of images. 

Also, the report suggests that the massive increase of AI-powered cameras may have an unintended consequence. They may represent an extension of corporate and bureaucratic power into the tendrils of our lives. They could not only watch our lives but also shape our behavior. “Think about what it feels like when we’re driving down the highway and we see a police cruiser driving behind us. Do we want to feel that way at all times?” the report wrote.