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Published on October 4th, 2018 | by Emergent Enterprise


This Startup’s AI Security Tech Can Identify a Gun Before the Trigger Is Pulled

Dozens of cities across the U.S.—including Chicago—use a gun detection technology called  ShotSpotter, which can identify when and where a shot was fired based on machine-learning algorithms that analyze sound. The goal is to reduce response times and alert authorities at the moment of an incident.

Source: Jim Dallke, americaninno.com, October 2, 2018.

But a Chicago startup believes its artificial intelligence technology is even faster—informing security teams that a weapon is on the premises even before a shot is heard.

Aegis AI, founded just this year, has built software that hooks into an organization’s existing security cameras and uses AI to automatically identify anyone who’s brandishing a firearm. Once Aegis AI spots a weapon, it alerts the security team who then notifies law enforcement.

“We can detect a weapon before a trigger is pulled,” said Ben Ziomek, Aegis AI co-founder and CTO. “In some instances we can enable a security response before any bullets are fired.”

In mass shooting events, time is of the essence. Each minute sooner that authorities can arrive on scene is a chance for more lives to be saved. A study of active shooter incidents in 2012 found that more than a third ended in less than five minutes, and the average incident lasted 12 minutes—with most ending before police ever arrive.

By detecting a gun at first sight, Aegis AI believes it can help send law enforcement to mass shootings quicker and save more lives.

“If we can shave 4-5 minutes off a 911 call, that means police can arrive to the scene before the shooting is done,” Ziomek said.

Aegis AI currently has two pilot customers—a private school in Chicago and a school district in Seattle. Its technology can be effective for organizations with even one security monitor, but it becomes particularly useful for schools and other groups that rely on one or two security officers to monitor a dozen or more screens throughout the day.

Aegis AI is the brainchild of Sonny Tai, who grew up in South Africa and fled to the United States after seeing his friends impacted by gun violence. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for nine years, and got his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It was at UChicago where he met Ziomek, who previously worked at Microsoft leading a team of AI engineers before getting his MBA at Booth.

The startup is backed by UChicago and MetaProp, a real estate tech-focused VC fund. Aegis AI has raised over $100,000 to date, and is planning to close a pre-seed round in the coming weeks.

Aegis AI’s pitch is simple—it helps organizations respond to potential shooting events faster than ever. But it also wants to be cost effective, Ziomek said. It charges less than $20 per camera per month.

Going forward, the startup wants to get its technology into more schools and property management customers, and believes it could be a fit for larger-scale venues and events like airports and the Olympics.

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