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Startups' Plan: Send Gun Detection Alerts from Cameras to Cops

A new partnership between ZeroEyes and RapidSOS aims to automatically identify weapons in video feeds, then alert local 911 systems in order to hasten police response to potential mass shooters.

a person holding an assault rifle
A new partnership between two tech startups has been struck in the hopes of creating a pipeline between weapon-detecting cameras and law enforcement officers.

The idea is to use ZeroEyes’ technology, which uses AI to identify when weapons appear in a video feed, to send alerts through RapidSOS to 911 personnel. So, for example, if a person carrying an assault rifle were to walk into a building with a surveillance camera at the door, it should send a message to emergency responders to let them know.

“Our mission is to ensure no one has to experience a traumatizing active shooter threat, especially our children,” said ZeroEyes CEO and Co-Founder Mike Lahiff in a statement. “With this partnership with RapidSOS, we will be able to greatly reduce emergency response times and deliver better situational awareness to ensure the safety of the public.”

ZeroEyes’ technology is not dissimilar from the ShotSpotter system, which relies on sound sensors to hear gunshots. And like ShotSpotter, ZeroEyes sends the information its systems automatically collect to a person who verifies it before passing it along to local officials.

It also leans into a recent trend of object detection in policing technology. The body camera maker Axon, for example, has been using AI to help law enforcement find moments in video where certain objects show up so that they can more quickly log information or find things they are required to hide before publicly releasing the imagery. Then there’s facial recognition, which many major technology companies have recently walked back for concerns of inaccuracy and bias amplification.

The partnership specifically means that RapidSOS has certified ZeroEyes as “RapidSOS Ready,” meaning it’s a trusted source to feed data into RapidSOS systems.

“This technology will give telecommunicators more visibility into what is occurring, helping inform the actions they take to get the right first responders on scene as quickly as possible,” RapidSOS General Manager Viyas Sundaram said in the statement.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.