Metal Detector Lines

Relying on 100-Year-Old Technology is Not the Answer to Stop Today’s Active Shooter

By Mike Ellenbogen, CEO

One of the indelible lessons seared into our consciousness over the last 20 years is that every public gathering and event is now a soft target. From concerts to prayers – there are few places that would be considered sanctuary against the evils perpetrated by mass shooters.

According to the Gun Violence archive, there were more than 340 mass shootings in the U.S. alone in 2018 – nearly one a day. While there remains disagreement on a legislative solution to the mass shooting problem, one thing has become clear – facilities that have a high degree of visible security measures are less likely to become a target.

Visual deterrents, like metal detectors, can be incredibly effective in preventing attacks from occurring, but the technology has had minimal improvement since the walkthrough metal detector was invented more than 90 years ago.

Doesn’t our modern problem deserve a more modern solution? It should be possible to deter and prevent mass casualty events like what happened in Las Vegas without requiring every single person to take off their belt and take out their keys before entering a building?

According to a recent report, organizations will spend more than $1.5 Billion on metal detectors in the next five years. This doesn’t even account for the massive labor costs required to adequately staff these devices to ensure heightened security. Nor does it account for the impact on visitor experience – at some point, your patrons will grow tired of having to wait in line to then strip down and hold their hands in the air to show that their phone isn’t a weapon.

Metal detectors represent the security approach of the past – the future of prevention is a combination of better sensors, AI and biometrics that helps immediately identify all manner of threats without compromising visitor convenience.

As today’s threats grow more menacing, the technologies preventing the next tragedy need to evolve as well. Here are four primary ways that the we can improve upon the metal detector:

Superior Detection at the Speed of Life

Metal detectors are pretty descriptive – they detect metal objects.  Determining whether the objects present a threat requires additional layers of screening – and more importantly, they don’t account for newer threats that have emerged in recent years, including explosives, plastic weapons, and more.

Using a combination of active millimeter wave and electromagnetic sensors, solutions such as the Evolv Edge are able to detect both weapons and explosives, while avoiding the nuisance alarms that make lines slow down so people can remove keys from their pockets.

People and Bags; Bags and People

While security and prevention should stand alone, the reality is that each needs to be balanced with customer convenience. Stringent requirements to enter a public facility may increase security, but if the approach is too onerous, there may not be an event to protect as the customers stay at home.

Metal detectors are often accompanied by ancillary screening measures – like X-Rays or even hand searches – to account for bags and other items.  We want a facility to allow people to be people – so they can walk through the checkpoint at a regular pace without pausing, stopping or posing.  They can even walk through with their bags and are not required to remove materials from bags or their person.

Individual Screening – Eliminating Single File Requirements 

One of the biggest detriments of the walk through metal detector is that crowds need to line up and filter through in single file. If the person in front of you triggers an alert, then the entire line slows down as that person receives secondary screening.

It needs to be possible to screen individuals within crowds, pinpointing individual threats within a free-flow environment. This allows for screening on a more natural basis for crowds entering a facility, improving customer satisfaction while ensuring that everyone is vetted for weapons of all kinds.

Improving Guard Effectiveness 

As we discussed above, the walk through metal detector requires significant human intervention – each alert requires physical intervention for additional screening.  Whether it’s a pat down, or the use of wand technology guards need to manually vet persons of interest after each alert.

Solutions exist that are designed to help guards do their job more effectively – which is protect the customers of the facility they’re guarding. Potential threats are identified with a picture of the person who set off the alert, as well as a clear indication of where the threat exists on the body. This expedites secondary searches, while providing guards with actionable intelligence that could be the difference in preventing a mass casualty event.

The technologies used to try to detect and prevent the next mass casualty event are outdated.  Metal detectors were not designed to handle modern facilities or crowds. Security investment needs to be focused on more capable security systems that allow for fluid detection and a better visitor experience.

Learn more about Evolv Edge here.

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