The University of Wisconsin-Madison has signed an agreement with a security systems company to begin beta testing a technology that would detect concealed weapons and potential threats on campus.
Liberty Defense Holdings, which develops technology to identify dangerous weapons, announced plans Thursday to collaborate with the University of Wisconsin Police Department to test HEXWAVE, a radar imaging and artificial intelligence system.
HEXWAVE, which was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses 3D imaging to scan large crowds for metal and nonmetal weapons. It can identify weapons under clothing or in hand baggage while reducing the long lines or clunky equipment that often come with security clearance at high foot-traffic events.
Demand for such technologies has been especially high due to heightened concerns about gun violence and public safety, Liberty Defense CEO Bill Riker said.
“We’re really excited to work with the university and also support other security devices and programs that are out there,” Riker said. “We see everyone’s success in preventing violence as key to returning that peace of mind that is so important to our communities.”
HEXWAVE can be installed at the perimeter of a building to assess potential threats without collecting private or personally identifiable information.
UWPD Capt. Jason Whitney said the university has not yet determined specific events or locations where it will conduct the testing, but that it will be a good opportunity to test a security product in a hands-on environment.
“We’re always looking for the best way to secure facilities, convenient ways so it doesn’t ... inconvenience the fans that are coming in,” Whitney said. “Anything we can do to help provide security at the top level with the least amount of impact on the fans is a great thing.”
The beta testing process will occur internationally at a wide range of locations — including shopping centers, a temple and a Toronto airport — for about four to five months in 2020. Liberty Defense aims to finish production and enter the market by the end of 2020, Riker said.
Being the first school to work with Liberty Defense to test HEXWAVE is an exciting opportunity, UW-Madison chief of police Kristen Roman said in a press release.
“The security of our campus is, of course, a top priority,” Roman said. “We understand how important it is for organizations to keep innovating when it comes to security and we look forward to kicking off the testing.”
Riker added that universities and school campuses are a “key area” where Liberty Defense can test its technology in a unique setting.
During the beta testing process, the technology will come at no cost to UWPD and UW-Madison, according to a UWPD press release.
“Doing a beta test in a university environment gives us a different type of case and profile of folks being screened,” said David Albert, Liberty Defense’s vice president of external affairs. “It provides a lot of data that we can work with to improve the operational efficacy of the product.”