A church in California is preparing to use artificial intelligence to defend its congregation against a potential shooting incident. The idea is being driven by Matt Montana, the Director of Safety at Valley Baptist Church in the city of Bakersfield.
After spending 14-years serving on the FBI international terrorism squad, he assessed that the church’s four campuses needed a system to identify and intercept a gunman before anyone got hurt. Mr. Montana said that guns themselves aren’t his main concern. His security worries centre on trying to prevent people from “having weapons on campus for nefarious means.”
Faithwire reports he found a company called ZeroEyes run by former Navy Seals. It describes itself as a provider of “human-verified proactive gun detection and situational awareness software that integrates into existing digital security cameras with a mission to stop mass shootings and gun-related violence.” It was developed after the Parkland school mass shooting which claimed 17 lives in Florida five years ago.
ZeroEyes uses video cameras that already exist at various institutions. The company started by working with schools, processing images frame-by-frame to see if and when guns might show up. Co-founder and COO Ron Huberty explained: “We took images of ourselves carrying guns on these types of cameras, and we just compiled a massive database for what the definition of a gun is. If there’s an image, it’s going to send out an alert, and it’s going to give that image of that location.”
The flagged image can then make its way into the hands of first responders to prepare them to take quick and decisive action to neutralise threats more readily. Mr. Huberty said the use of existing cameras doesn’t invade privacy while simultaneously elevating security.
Mr. Montana believes it will be a perfect fit for his church. “I think it’s extremely important for me personally, for churches, houses of faith to recognise that guns are a fact of life they need to be vigilant– not paranoid, but vigilant.”