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Evolv’s weapons screening tech questioned

Featured image credit: Evolv Technology

Weapons detection security screening firm, Evolv Technology, has defended its products, utilised at some of the world’s biggest venues, amid claims that they are “incapable” of detecting certain items.

Documents shared with BBC News by research firm IPVM suggest Evolv’s artificial intelligence scanners may fail to detect certain types of knives, as well as some bombs and components.

Evolv told BBC News it had told venues of all “capabilities and limitations”.

Evolv markets its scanners on the basis of creating unique ‘signatures’ of weapons that differentiate them from items such as computers or keys, reducing the need for manual security checks and preventing long queues.

However, the BBC notes that independent security experts have expressed doubts about some of Evolv’s claims for a number of years, while the company has previously refused to let IPVM test its Evolv Express (pictured) product.

However, it granted permission to the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) last year. NCS4’s public report, released earlier this year, gave Evolv a score of 2.84 out of three, stating that many types of guns were detected 100% of the time.

It also produced a private report, obtained via a Freedom of Information request by IPVM and shared with BBC News along with emails between Evolv and NCS4. This gave Evolv’s ability to detect large knives a score of just 1.3 out of 3. In 24 walkthroughs, Evolv Express is said to have failed to detect large knives 42% of the time.

The report said: “The system was incapable of detecting every knife on the sensitivity level observed during the exercise. Recommend full transparency to potential customers, based on data collected.”

The BBC adds that emails obtained by IPVM highlighted that Evolv employees had been allowed to make “tracked changes” to the report – deleting certain sections. In response to the BBC report, Evolv said: “We work closely to communicate sensitive security information, including the capabilities and limitations of our system, so that security professionals can make the most informed decisions for their specific venue.

“We feel providing a blueprint of how to get around the security-screening process and technology to the public will make the venues our customers secure less safe.”

Venue and event management company ASM Global announced a new partnership with Evolv in July. Under the partnership, Evolv has operated as part of ASM’s VenueShield, the company’s safety and security programme.

AO Arena, operated by ASM Global, was the first arena in Europe to use Evolv’s technology as part of its £50m (€58.1m/$657.4m) investment into Manchester’s venue, which was the scene of the May 2017 terrorist attack which killed 22 people following an Ariana Grande concert. The second report from the public inquiry into the attack is due to be released tomorrow (Thursday).

AO Arena has been using Evolv Express to screen guests as they arrive at the venue for events, without the need to stop or remove items from their pockets or policy-compliant bags.

In the US, Evolv last month strengthened its presence in the NFL by agreeing a deal with SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

Evolv earlier entered into a partnership with FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, and also holds agreements with the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium, Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium and Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium.