Here in the United States, we just had many mass shootings over a short period once again focusing our politicians into arguments on gun control. These efforts are kind of pointless because our mass shootings generally occur in areas where gun control is higher than average, and the remedies tend to focus on taking guns away from people that don’t do mass shootings (which is far from popular with gun owners). For us that live here, it just seems like the two sides both would rather use this issue as an election talking point rather than funding the research that would result in a real solution. Neither even wants to do the work to determine what a real solution, one that first identifies whey people want to do mass killings and then tailors the solution to the specific problem, might be.
We have analytics that could come up with a solution, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) could implement it, but the right is afraid the answer is “get rid of guns,” and the left is afraid it isn’t and might be something they don’t like. Coincidently this last week, Intel, with Honeywell, showcased a technology that could help, and BlackBerry not only has one technology that could help they launched another that might help as well that could at least make areas where people gather far less of the effective target-rich environments they now are.
Let’s explore this week.
BlackBerry: Alert and Identify
BlackBerry’s targeted technology is called AtHoc and what it does is provide a targeted Smartphone oriented app that could both alert people they are in danger, and help guide them to safety. This application was developed specifically for problems like this, and it is used widely by government clients wanting to make sure their employees are safe. While I’m bringing it up in the context of a mass shooting, it is also effective for any natural disaster and could make the difference, if you were caught in one, between being a statistic and being safe.
But the more interesting technology, which isn’t yet targeted at this problem, is their new Cylance based (BlackBerry acquired Cylance) Intelligent Security offering. This is an AI-backed solution that monitors the behavior and can both alert out and automatically reduce access based on a policy if a user suddenly starts acting strangely. Right now it is focused on someone who has been compromised or wants to execute digital theft, but the concept could be applied to physical behavior so that a student that suddenly starts acting abnormally is flagged as a potential threat real-time. In fact, given someone contemplating an attack would behave differently, there is a pretty good chance this approach, if not this technology, could provide the early warning of a problem we currently seem to lack.
The Intel/Honeywell solution was targeted at this kind of a problem in that it is based on video surveillance and uses AI Inference based on Intel technology to identify threats. This includes the ability to use facial recognition to identify known threats, track someone across the campus that shouldn’t be there, and flag people approaching a site who are armed. In theory, the technology could direct first responders both to the attacker and to those that needed the most help. Unlike security personnel who would tire over time of watching video feeds and generally not be alert when an attack happened, the AI doesn’t get bored, doesn’t get distracted, and doesn’t get scared. It will perform per policy even in the middle of the night on the weekend.
Wrapping Up: Linking The Technologies
This wouldn’t have to be an either/or thing. Linking the technologies from both companies would provide the potential for substantial early warning to both direct security personnel that an attack was coming (and possibly stop it before it occurred) and alert attendees to the threat and guild them out. At the same time, it would direct those responding to both the attacker and those that needed the most help with machine-like prioritization (emotionless and effective) to minimize loss of life and damage.
Both companies again showcased we have the technologies to make people safer we have to step up and use them.