AI weapons detection startups compete with industry giant in expanding Va. school market

Advanced weapons scanners in Hopewell.
Advanced weapons scanners in Hopewell.(WWBT)
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 3:29 PM EDT
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Demand from Virginia school divisions for better building security is on the rise following increases in school shootings over the past several years, including a high-profile case at a Newport News elementary in January.

According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, Virginia had 13 school shootings in 2022, the most on record for the state. As of early August, the number of wounded and killed in 2023 had already matched last year’s total.

This May, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced $16.4 million in competitive grant funding for additional security infrastructure at schools, and so far at least 10 school divisions in Virginia have plans to install new weapons detection systems.

As school officials and communities deliberate on how to best protect their students, two different approaches to school security are competing for control of the nascent market: more traditional metal detection on the one hand versus artificial intelligence-powered weapons detection on the other.

Over the past decade, advancements in machine learning technology have made it possible for startups like Massachusetts-based Evolv Technology to take on industry staples like Italian company Costruzioni Elettroniche Industriali Automatismi, better known as CEIA, in the market for school contracts in Virginia and across the United States.

Evolv currently has contracts with the Prince William County and Alexandria City school divisions, and spokesperson Jill Lemond said the company is in talks with several others but declined to name them.


NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)