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CEO of weapon scanner company showcased by NYC Mayor Adams: Subways not a “good use-case”

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The head of the company whose weapon-detection system was showcased by Mayor Adams as a potential solution to subway violence had told investors earlier this month that underground subways were not a “good use-case” for the new technology, the Daily News has learned.

Peter George, CEO of Evolv Technologies, said subways were a “particular” challenge for the company’s technology and would face challenges if deployed underground during a March 15 investor call reviewed by The News.

“Are you seeing any interest in security detection from cities directly? For example, New York City has experienced violence in the subway system — [any interest] direct from cities?” Eric Martinuzzi, a senior research analyst with Lake Street Capital Markets, asked George on the call.

Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a press conference announcing using weapons detectors for the NYC subway system in the Fulton Transit Center Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Manhattan, New York. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)

“Subways in particular are not a place that we think is a good use-case for us,” the CEO replied.

“Both for the [concept of operations], and being below ground and interference with the railways — [subways are] not a great use-case,” George continued.

It was not immediately clear if George’s concerns about subterranean operations could be addressed by putting the detectors near stations’ street entrances — a plan some transit sources have shared with The News.

Evolv’s weapon detection system — an AI-enabled camera and metal detector array that the firm says can find knives and guns while ignoring more innocuous items — took center stage Thursday at Mayor Adams’ subway security announcement.

Speaking at the Fulton St. subway station in lower Manhattan, Adams announced the beginning of a 90-day period in which the city will seek comments and put together a plan to bring weapon detection technology to the transit system. The announcement comes amid a series of high-profile incidents across the system, including a shooting on board an A train in Brooklyn this month.

A weapons detection system is picture before a press conference announcing weapons detectors for the NYC subway system in the Fulton Transit Center Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Manhattan, New York. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)
A weapons detection system is picture before a press conference announcing weapons detectors for the NYC subway system in the Fulton Transit Center Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Manhattan, New York. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)

A trial run could begin as early as July, officials said. Thursday’s announcement, the mayor said, is “the next step in our ongoing efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of our transit system.”

Adams and his team said they’re not locked into using Evolv Technology. The mayor characterized his announcement as a “call out” to all weapon detection companies to send in a proposal over the next 90 days, and said the selection process would be “extremely competitive.”

The announcement was made beside a portable unit made by Evolv, and NYPD officers demonstrated the system while walking through it while armed.

This month’s investor call isn’t the first time the company has raised subway concerns.

When Adams proposed weapons scanners for the system in 2022, representatives for Evolv told the mayor’s office that the tech could cause a bottleneck for people looking to board the trains, the New York Times reported.

Alexandra Ozerkis, a spokeswoman for Evolv, said the company’s technical team “is working with the NYPD security experts to understand how and where our technology can best be used to align with their security and operations objectives.”

“The NYPD contacted Evolv to explore and test the possibility of using our weapons detection screening solutions in select locations around the city as part of their multi-pronged plan to curb violent crime,” she said. “We are honored to have the opportunity to continue our mission to make safer experiences for the New York community in collaboration with the city.”

The firm has also been the subject of inquiries by the Federal Trade Commission, which is looking into whether the technology works as advertised.

Evolv acknowledged the probe in an October filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, writing, “we are pleased to answer their questions, as well as educate them about our mission to make communities safer and more secure.”

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