When the newsroom read about the partnership between Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and Evolv Technology for school safety, We were interested in just what technology Evolv would bring to the schools and why. We sat down with the people at Evolv to answer some questions about its partnership with APS, and these were their answers. 

Explain the technology of the Evolv weapons detection systems for unfamiliar people. How do they differentiate personal items from weapons?

“Evolv assumes positive intent, which means we look for weapons – not metal like a traditional metal detector – using AI. The technology powering the Evolv Express system is a combination of advanced sensors and artificial intelligence to distinguish personal items from weapons. When a potential threat is detected by the system, real-time alarms show the people managing the machines where the potential threat is located on a person or in his/her bag. That person is taken to secondary screening to check for the item that alerted the system.

Evolv is particularly helpful for schools because there is no stopping, emptying pockets, or removing bags as students walk through our systems. In fact, because of the speed at which people walk through, most don’t even notice they’re being screened.”

How did Evolv’s partnership with Atlanta Public Schools come about? Did APS officials reach out to you?

“Last year alone, the state of Georgia saw 195 cases in which a student was disciplined for bringing a handgun to school in the 2021-22 school year. Atlanta Public Schools had 34 cases alone.

APS installed a metal detector system years ago to try to combat this issue, but APS police Chief Ronald Applin was frustrated by how inefficient it was. He said it required teachers or administrators to check almost every bag because so many items would trigger the alarms.

With so many cases of students bringing handguns to schools and the inefficiency of their old system, APS reached out to Evolv as they were looking to find a new system that was more efficient and less invasive.”

What are the reports from the partnership so far? Are students and staff satisfied with the screenings?

“We’ve seen and heard very positive feedback from APS since the Evolv systems were installed in their schools. Here are just a few (source):

“Multiple APS employees said they haven’t seen opposition to weapons detection. Chief Applin said the system is an important deterrent, avoiding situations in which a student may have to report a peer.

Two members of Jackson’s student government agreed the system made them feel safer. They also didn’t recall any major incidents involving a weapon in their school.

‘It doesn’t matter what the area around a school is, somebody can always try to bring a weapon in, somebody can have bad intentions,’ Taylor DeBarr, a senior, said. ‘I think even if some people think it creates a negative connotation around a school, it’s more about keeping students safe.’

Leila Burgess-Kattoula, also a senior, added, ‘Taking these extra precautions seriously fosters a safe environment.’”

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