Home Tech New York City to test AI-enabled gun scanners in subway system

New York City to test AI-enabled gun scanners in subway system

by Elijah
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New York City to test AI-enabled gun scanners in subway system

Officials in New York City on Thursday announced a pilot program to deploy portable gun scanners across the subway system, part of an effort to deter underground violence and make the system feel safer.

The scanners will be introduced in select stations after a legally mandated 90-day waiting period, Mayor Eric Adams said.

“Keeping New Yorkers safe on the subway and maintaining confidence in the system is critical to ensuring New York remains the safest big city in America,” said Adams, who also announced a plan to increase additional outreach sending employees to subway stations to try to reach the subway. people with mental health problems living in the system, in treatment.

Adams said officials would work to identify companies with expertise in gun detection technology and that after the waiting period, the scanners would be installed in some subway stations “where the NYPD will be able to further evaluate the effectiveness of the equipment.”

The scanner that Adams and police officials introduced at Thursday’s press conference at a Lower Manhattan station came from Evolv, a publicly traded company accused of falsifying the results of software tests to make its scanners appear more effective than they are. The company is under investigation by both the US trade regulator and the top financial regulator.

The company describes its artificial intelligence scanners as deploying “secure, ultra-low frequency, electromagnetic fields and advanced sensors to detect concealed weapons.”

Evolv’s CEO, Peter George, previously said: “We have signed all the threats that exist: all the weapons that exist, all the bombs, all the large tactical knives.”

A man demonstrates the Evolv weapon detection system. Photo: Erik Pendzich/Rex/Shutterstock

Jerome Greco, supervising attorney for the digital forensics unit at the Legal Aid Society, said gun detection systems can cause false alarms and cause panic.

“This administration’s stubborn reliance on technology as a panacea to promote public safety is misguided, costly and creates significant invasions of privacy,” Greco said in a press release.

Adams said the city would conduct its own analysis of the scanners’ accuracy.

“People may have had bad experiences with this technology,” said Adams, a former transit police officer. “What we have seen has met our expectations. And we will conduct an analysis and determine: does it meet our expectations?

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City officials did not say exactly where the scanners would be installed. The device they demonstrated at the Fulton Street station beeped after a brief delay when a police officer with a holstered gun passed through it, but was silent as officers with cellphones and other electronic devices walked through.

Overall, violent crimes are rare on the city’s subway system, which serves about 3 million passengers a day, but there have been two high-profile shooting incidents recently. Earlier in March, a man was shot with his own gun and seriously injured during a confrontation with another passenger. Last month, one person was killed and several others injured when shots were fired during a fight between two groups on a rush-hour subway train.

According to police, there were five homicides in the system last year, compared to 10 the year before. Three murders occurred in the first two months of 2024.

The scanner’s announcement came days after a fatal push at an East Harlem subway station on Monday once again brought the issue of subway safety to the forefront.

Also on Monday, New York City officials announced a plan to send an additional 800 police officers into the subway system to crack down on fare evasion.

Before the latest wave, the NYPD had seized 17 guns from people put into the system this year, Janno Lieber, chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said at a board meeting Wednesday.

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