Weapons scanning in public places seems to be hitting a tipping point, moving beyond schools and airports and onto public transit. This week, NPR reported that the Los Angeles public transit system said it would be the first in the U.S. to use millimeter wave scanners to screen Metro riders for suspicious objects as they move through stations.
The Thruvision scanners, which cost about $100,000 each, detect metal and non-metal objects as well as radiation released by riders’ bodies. The goal is mainly to eliminate the threat of suicide bombers, according to an official at American Public Transportation Association. The TSA has also been testing similar devices in the San Francisco BART and New Jersey, as well as in Penn Station.
Kids heading back to school are more likely to pass through metal detectors this year, as schools flush with state safety money make their purchases. Cincinnati Public Schools are adding 10 new metal detectors this year, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. According to the report, about 10.6 percent of American high schools used random metal detector checks in the 2015-2016 school year, along with 7.1 percent of middle schools and 2.01 percent of elementary schools.
Officials we spoke to said metal detectors have become popular in the wake of last school year’s high school shootings, but manning them is another matter. “And what are they going to do if someone comes through with weapons,” Donald Mook, school superintendent in Columbiana, Ohio, told Public Security Today.
Meanwhile, a growing list of companies is using AI in new weapons detection systems they say can prevent mass shootings inside school buildings. “Once the system flags a potential gun, it can alert security staff, who can either confirm or dismiss the threat before triggering a lockdown and notifying police,” Jeremy Hsu wrote in Undark.
Among those companies is PatriotOne Technologies, the sponsor of this blog. PatriotOne recently announced a partnership with the University of North Dakota to build and test a Threat Detection System that includes AI-backed weapons detection. The system will be tested at a number of campus facilities, including University Village and The Ralph Engelstad Arena.