Gun violence in the U.S. has been on the rise in recent years. Where 2016 saw 383 reported mass shootings, 2021 saw 690; there were 646 mass shootings in 2022. More than 45,000 people were killed as a result of gun violence in 2021.
And 2023 so far is on track to becoming one of the deadliest years on record. There have been at least 377 mass shootings so far, in addition to 30 mass killings, which is more mass killings at this point in the year since 2006.
In the midst of this violent epidemic, a group of former Navy SEALS is striving to protect people across the country. And their tool to do so revolves around artificial intelligence.
ZeroEyes was founded in 2018 by a group of tech experts and military veterans. The software company offers an AI-driven solution that integrates with existing security cameras to analyze live feeds in order to detect guns. When the detection software flags a potential weapon, the footage is scanned immediately by an experienced human analyst. If the flag turns out to be positive, ZeroEyes alerts local law enforcement as well as the client, with the goal of vastly reducing the time it takes first responders to arrive on the scene.
A live example of the still-frame that would be sent to a ZeroEyes HQ for verification.
The idea was born out of a desire to use security cameras preventatively, rather than following a violent event.
“The gun is exposed during these mass shootings, the vast majority of the time, in front of an actual live security camera between two and 30 minutes before shots fired,” Sam Alaimo, the company’s co-founder, told The Street. “This is a golden opportunity. How do we get an image sent from a camera to the end user to enact their security protocols and keep people safe? That was why we built ZeroEyes.”
The company’s software integrates easily into existing video management systems, and to avoid privacy concerns, ZeroEyes does not live-stream the video feeds or store data.
“We just want to know when there’s a gun outside of a school or a gun outside of a casino or something like that to make sure we can affect some sort of change here,” Alaimo said.
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The only time ZeroEyes analysts — which consist of former law enforcement and military personnel — see an image is after the AI has flagged a potential weapon; the software then sends a still image of that flag to one of the company’s two headquarters for it to be verified.
The verification process, which, if positive, ends with the team sending an alert to both the client and law enforcement, takes less than five seconds.
ZeroEyes has built up hundreds of clients and operates in thousands of buildings. The company recently partnered with UMC Health System, which is the first hospital in the region to deploy a system like this. ZeroEyes was also recently awarded a contract to deploy its detection tech for U.S. Air Force “edge” devices, which include body cameras.
The company identifies hundreds of weapons every single day. Not all are real, but even the identification of something like an airsoft gun is important; ZeroEyes can inform clients — including schools — that an airsoft gun is on campus, something that can prevent an overreaction by law enforcement.
For Alaimo, this system operates like a fire alarm. Some form of this AI-powered gun-detection software, he thinks, will be on every camera in the world at some point.
“Your odds of being killed in a mass shooting are 15 times greater than dying in a building that’s burning. Yet fire alarms are mandated in every building in America. We see this technology being something similar,” he said.
“We have a real problem with the country. We have a real solution for right now. We’re not offering thoughts and prayers. We’re not talking about mental health. We’re not arguing gun laws. We can keep doing that — we should– but we want to take care of right now and that’s what our software is built for.”
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