Home Technology CEO of Firm Tapped for AI Metal Detectors in NYC Subways Says Subways Are Not a ‘Good Use-Case’

CEO of Firm Tapped for AI Metal Detectors in NYC Subways Says Subways Are Not a ‘Good Use-Case’

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Photo: Barry Williams for NY Daily News (Getty Images)

Citing a supposed spike in crime, New York State and New York City officials have launched a heavy-handed, police-state-flavored push to increase safety in the city’s subway systems. This has included the controversial deployment of National Guard and State Police units into the city’s tunnels and, potentially, the installation of new surveillance systems. One possible solution to subterranean crime that was recently touted by Mayor Eric Adams is Evolv, a firm that sells AI-powered weapons-detection scanners.

On Thursday, Adams held a press conference in which he announced a 90-day pilot program involving new Evolv scanners to detect weapons in the city’s subway systems. The devices are designed to hunt for guns and knives. There’s just one problem, however: the CEO of the company behind the scanners recently admitted that they aren’t really meant for subway systems.

“Subways in particular are not a place that we think is a good use-case for us,” said Peter George, the top executive at Evolv Technologies, during a recent call with journalists. “Both for the [concept of operations] and being below ground and interference with the railways — [subways are] not a great use-case,” he reiterated. While George didn’t elaborate on why they’re not useful in that context, it’s not a particularly good look for the Mayor’s Office.

To make matters worse, Evolv is being sued by some of its shareholders who accused the company of exaggerating the degree to which its devices could actually detect weaponry, 404 Media reported Friday. The class-action lawsuit called some of the company’s marketed abilities “materially false and misleading because Evolv does not reliably detect knives or guns.” So, that’s not great. You can understand city officials’ desire to make residents feel safe, although one might argue that flooding the MTA with surveillance equipment and heavily armed men isn’t the smartest approach.

Gizmodo reached out to Evolv and to the New York City Mayor’s Office for comment and we’ll update this post when we receive a response.

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