Using artificial intelligence to keep our cities safe

On April 22 at 3:23 am, CDT, a nearly naked gunman unloaded his assault-style rifle at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tenn., killing four people. The shooting ended when a customer, James Shaw, Jr. wrestled the weapon away from the gunman, Travis Reinking, 29, who then fled on foot. After a frantic manhunt, Reinking was arrested and booked into a Metro jail on four counts of criminal homicide.

Eleven days later, on May 3, shots were fired at Opry Mills in Nashville. A man who was wounded after a dispute led to gunfire at Opry Mills Mall died. The shooting happened just before 2:30 pm in a hallway outside an Auntie Anne’s pretzel store. The 22-year-old victim, who was shot, was taken to Skyline Medical Center where he died. The shooter, Golson, of Antioch, was charged with criminal homicide. The two men knew one another, and a continuing dispute had preceded the physical altercation and shooting in the mall.

Every time we pick up the newspaper or listen to the news, there is another story about violence in our cities. We can utilize artificial intelligence or biometrics (the science that allows us to identify someone by using their personal traits such as fingerprints, retina scans, and face recognition) to deal with violence.

Middle Tennessee State University uses a combination of fingerprints and passwords at the entrance to its Recreation Center. Hand and password recognition devices at the entrance of every school, nightclub, restaurant, company and the public facility should be used.

Security cameras similar to the ones used at every major airport to determine if a person entering the building has a history of mental illness or is a terrorist by searching or cross-referencing its internal database. This is not new. It was embraced even in 2006 and tested on inmates, children, the mentally ill, and military personnel <www.schneier.com, 2006>. The security cameras database detects mentally ill and known terrorists. At first glance, one would think that this is not cost effective, but it would be. Investing in artificial intelligence or biometrics would help our economy by creating jobs, thus improving the employment rate.

Authorities should monitor what individuals are writing in their Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Google+, etc. accounts on a proactive basis—not after the crime has occurred. This would allow the proper authorities to detect mental health problems before the person commits a crime.

I would like to conclude with the words of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) when she was interviewed by MAKERS, a dynamic digital platform showcasing thousands of compelling stories, both known and unknown, from trailblazing women of today and tomorrow. It is the largest video collection of women’s stories.

“I’m still fighting to make the world a better place, and you can too,” Giffords said. “Strong women get things done. Be passionate. Be courageous. Be your best.”