Christchurch mosque to install AI vision to detect active shooters

Following the killing of 50 in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, the new technology is aimed at preventing future attacks.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

The Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch, NZ, where an anti-Islamic extremist opened fire and killed 50 and wounded another 50, will soon install an AI-powered active shooter detection platform. The equipment is being installed as part of a larger effort called the Keep Mosques Safe initiative (KMS).

"The mass shooting at the Al-Noor Mosque was an unspeakable tragedy that no community should have to suffer," said Lisa Falzone, co-founder of Athena Security, which makes the detection system. "The Keep Mosques Safe initiative is an important step in giving mosques the tools to better protect themselves from extremist individuals that wish to do them harm, so we can help prevent horrific events like this in the future." 

Athena boasts that its AI-powered gun detection security platform can quickly and accurately detect an active shooter and alert law enforcement before shots are fired. As we've written, the technology has been installed in schools and public spaces.

The company set out to create a computer vision algorithm that monitors cameras without reporting too many false positives, a weakness of past attempts at AI gun detection technology. Athena's system is powered by the NVIDIA 2080 RTX graphics card and can be integrated into current camera security networks. Besides schools, the company is marketing its solution to retailers.

Keep Mosques Safe was started by Fahad A.B. Al-Ameri, CEO of the Qatari company Al-Ameri International, following the Christchurch shooting. 

"It gives us a great honor to have created such an initiative that aims to protect innocent worshippers, men, women and children in the houses of worship. After the tragic attack in the Al-Noor Mosque, I reached out to pay my condolences to Brother Shagaf Khan, the President of the Muslim Association of Canterbury as many had done. But, I was also committed to help support the New Zealand Islamic Community and the search started to reach a intelligent system that could help prevent such incidents happening again," said Mr. Fahad.

Athena was founded in 2018 by Lisa Falzone and Christopher Ciabarra, who previously founded Revel Systems, an iPad point of sale startup. The Security Industry Association (SIA), a leading trade organization for global security solution providers, recently named Athena the 2019 winner of the best product for  "Threat Detection and Safety Platform" at the SIA New Product Showcase Awards, which took place last month. 

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