“Thoughts and Prayers.”
How many times have we heard this after a major violent event or mass shooting?
Too many that the phrase has lost meaning and rings hollow for some.
It’s hard to fathom but at the start of 2019 there were five mass shootings that took place in five straight days in America—that’s 15 lives stamped out in less than 120 hours.
And the surge of these horrific acts of gun violence have left a collective scar on the consciousness of citizens worldwide.
Our ability to humanize and understand that each and every victim is a sacred life that has unfairly left this planet is important to maintain our society from falling apart.
Imagine one person you really love:
Your mother, a brother, your father, or sister. Your partner, a best friend, or lover.
You would do anything for them—anything to protect them and ensure their safety. Because when it comes down to it, your time together is the most precious thing in life.
And our community leaders understand this. Preserving this peace of mind is essential for our well-being. And true leadership is about making meaningful efforts to protect all of humanity to avoid the heinous acts of violence from taking place at all in the first place.
Standout community leader aims for a safer world
One of those leaders is Mr. Bill Riker.
Before Mr. Riker got involved with a Georgia-based security technology company last August (much more on that later), he spent over 37 years leading global defense, aerospace and security systems all with his sights on making the world a safer place.
The former military official served 20 years as an armor officer in Asia, the Middle East and Europe and says he has seen first-hand the unthinkable when things go wrong.
In his military career he commanded tank units within the 1st Armored and 24th Infantry Divisions. There, he also led several major programs including the US$4.2 billion Bradley Fighting Vehicle Program, and the US$2.1 billion Kuwait M1A2 Foreign Military Sale Program. Both programs resulted in the deployment of state-of-the-art combat vehicles systems used in the Iraq Gulf War among other conflicts.
In 2001, Officer Riker went on to manage multiple technology development programs with General Dynamics Land Systems, which included robotics and combat systems integration such as the UK Future Rapid Effects System, an ambitious British armor program to increase its defense capabilities.
A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, with a master’s degree in engineering and MBA from the University of Michigan, Riker then worked DRS Technologies and Finmeccanica starting in 2007 to tackle similar defense projects, but with an increased emphasis on the changing technology for communications, Air Force logistics systems, and tactical wheeled vehicles.
“I know the effect of what it takes to bring a new technology to market, especially in terms of complex combat or support systems,” he said in a phone interview.
Riker then joined Smiths Detection, Inc. as a member of its senior team in 2012, where he could use his defense expertise to provide global security with the detection of chemical, nuclear and explosive threats at ports and borders, critical infrastructure, and aviation and military sites.
Military veteran’s next endeavor set to save lives, amid global trend of attacks
But Riker’s impressive career in global security spanning more than three decades isn’t finished yet.
Today, security officials across the planet have been trying to keep families safe amid this global trend of massive attacks and gun violence—and Riker wants to be part of the solution.
Since the Sandy Hook tragedy took place at the end of 2012, there have been more than 2,000 mass shooting events in the U.S., with over 1,700 attacks taking place since 2015. And the problem is only escalating with almost 400 people killed around the world from mass shootings and bombings from March to May this year alone.
They are staggering numbers to contemplate, and as each passing tragic event grabs international headlines, public officials are under tremendous pressure to come up with solutions to protect citizens.
On the Department of Homeland Security’s website, you can see it has an interest in trying to provide what’s called a “layered defense” in public spaces.
Liberty Defense “game changer” in threat detection
And in August of 2018, Riker joined Liberty Defense Technologies (TSXV: SCAN; FRANKFURT: LD2) to lead the company as chief executive because he saw how it is creating the next generation of high-tech security solutions that could prevent public threats before they even walk through the door.
With Riker’s pedigree in the global security industry, Liberty Defense’s leading-edge AI surveillance system caught his eye as a way to save lives in a revolutionary way.
“I became aware of this technology in the summer of 2018 and recognized that it could be that game changer for that urban security market,” Riker said.
The Atlanta-based security tech firm won exclusive licensing rights around one year ago to the security technology created by MIT Lincoln Labs, which it has been developing since 2014 and Liberty Defense is integrating it into the product called HEXWAVE.
The threat detection technology uses radio frequency waves to scan passing people and illuminate both metallic and non-metallic objects through their clothes or hand-carry bags to create 3D image which are then analyzed using Artificial Intelligence—all in real time.
“It takes 0.2 seconds for the system to make a determination of whether or not you have a threat on you when you enter the space. So essentially, it’s instantaneous,” the CEO said of HEXWAVE.
Liberty Defense uses AI and deep learning to recognize concealed objects and predict whether these items are weapons, explosives, or a benign object with superior accuracy. This component of HEXWAVE uses artificial neural networks (ANN), which is an advanced AI method derived from how the human brain learns and recognizes objects. If it detects a threat, it will then alert security personnel to take the appropriate action, or allow a person carrying a benign object to pass undisturbed — all within a fraction of a second.
“We’ll be making the machines smarter and smarter, not by adding data into them but in refining the learning algorithm,” Riker said. “And learning algorithms have already proven themselves capable of extremely complex, instantaneous analysis just like humans do.” The actual training of the neural network is done at Liberty’s Engineering Centre of Excellence (COE) in Atlanta, Georgia.
HEXWAVE scanners can be arranged in a portal mode using two 60-centimetre-by-two-metre panels and can be set up indoors and outdoors, either overtly or covertly behind wall panels or in kiosks. The modular design of HEXWAVE enables it to be scalable across the detection space which maximizes the range of options for facilities to position this scanning capability to where it is most needed, according to Riker.
The hi-tech devices are mobile for easy set-up and can be deployed as a standalone single unit, or in two or multiple units and integrated into the venue’s existing security system and can trigger automatic lock-down systems for electronic doors or barriers.
Riker said they are also “smart devices” that can be unified to communicate with each other in what’s called a “Mesh Network,” where the units can communicate among themselves or through a single point into a venue’s network. This is a “significant capability” towards enabling rapid integration into a venue’s security infrastructure.
“Positive customer experience”
The cutting-edge system is designed to be installed in high-traffic, soft target public locations to provide layered security detection. And because the technology works in real-time, Riker said it will be able to process more than 1,000 people per hour, making it convenient for businesses, governments and customers opposed to cumbersome standard metal detectors or pat-downs.
“It is a capability that will enable the security, throughput and positive customer experience that this part of the security world wants,” Riker said.
And Riker added the system is safe. First, because the radar energy level it uses is 200 times less than a common WiFi signal. And second, it doesn’t record people or analyze their faces, a boon for businesses worried about data privacy.
“We don’t store any of the images of the people—it doesn’t have the fidelity to do that or even looks at people’s faces and only the AI sees the images,” he said. “It’s about saving lives, but it’s also about preserving the peace of mind. Nobody wants to live in a police state.”
According to a Homeland Security Research Corp. study, the global market for weapons and explosive detection security will be worth more than US$8 billion by 2020 and surpass US$11 billion by 2025.
Liberty Defense breaks down its market strategy into a four-tier vertical approach, which it projects it will reach $1.5 to $2.0 billion in North America by 2020.
Projections for each component of their strategy include (all in USD):
- Public Venues ($283-$428M, CAGR to 8.8%)
- Secured Perimeters ($820M-$1.03B, CAGR to 4.7%)
- Land Transportation ($174-$257M, CAGR to 8.2%)
- Other/Schools/Hotels ($201-$228M, CAGR to 2.7%)
According to the company, HEXWAVE will be able to be deployed around infrastructure perimeter walkways leading to: Airports, movie theatres, sporting venues and government offices. This way, the security units could spot potential threats long before they reach the security checkpoint.
And indoor use in high traffic areas include: Shopping malls, hospitals, schools and places of worship.
“When you get into a bank and nobody can go anywhere and you’ve got a guy with a hand gun, with multiple magazines it’s frankly too late. You can’t hide, you can’t run away. So we’re trying to prevent someone from getting into the facility with that type of weapon,” said Riker.
Liberty set to develop and deploy
Now that the security firm is publicly trading, Liberty Defense (TSXV: SCAN; FRANKFURT: LD2) has raised a total of CAD$12 million, with having successfully raised CAD$7 million associated with a reverse takeover last March. This is helping it launch its strategy to develop and roll-out the technology.
Riker said the engineering activity is making steady progress in the development of HEXWAVE and expect to be in a prototype and initial test stage in the Atlanta lab during this summer. Then, beta-testing, or user trials, will start taking place at various venues starting later this year.
The tech firm has already established partnerships with various high-profile sports, entertainment and property management groups to begin testing the technology.
In April, Liberty Defense announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Vancouver Arena Partnership,. Testing is expected early 2020 at Rogers Arena, a hockey rink and entertainment venue in Vancouver.
Earlier in the year, Liberty also signed an MOU with Sleiman Enterprises Inc., a Florida-based real estate developer that oversees more than 150 shopping centers. Riker said HEXWAVE will be tested at an undisclosed shopping mall in the U.S. later this year.
“If we put it in and it saves a life, what is that worth? It’s worth all the money in the world,” Toney Sleiman, president of the real estate firm, said in the Wall Street Journal.
In addition, Liberty announced in May it will be partnering with Utah’s attorney generalto test this state-of-the-art AI surveillance system in various public spaces that may include Park City at the Sundance Film Festival.
The technology appears to “strike the balance between privacy interests on one side and security and safety. HEXWAVE seems to be right in that sweet spot,” Attorney General Sean Reyes told the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Other notable tie-ups that could further strike testing deals include FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani, and former member of Live Nation Canada, John May, whose career has been built around large event promotion. Both have significant access to large-scale venue operations and both sit on Liberty Defense’s board of advisors, which includes other senior industry leaders.
Moving ahead of the competition with active 3D Radar imaging
While Liberty Defense expects to have a commercial model of HEXWAVE in production by the middle of 2020, several competitors already have high-tech, high speed scanners on the market.
Last year, Wired Magazine reported security tech firm Rhode & Schwarz signed a deal with Denver International Airport to test its AI scanners. And Bill Gates-backed Evolv Technology, a private U.S. company, has had an AI system on the market for 18 months with hundreds of systems deployed with dozens of clients. Evolv’s system can reportedly process 800 persons per hour and its clients include Oakland International Airport and the Lincoln Center in New York, according to its website.
But Riker said Liberty’s active 3D Radar imaging technology developed at MIT is at the forefront of the industry, which gives it a natural advantage over its competition as a system ideally suited for the urban security environment.
“I’m very careful about not disparaging any of the competition because there’s some very good capability out there, but I will tell you that we are literally bringing a new dimension to bear in detection through the merging of active 3D imaging, AI and the flexibility of deployment that suits a venue’s security infrastructure,” he said.
“Due to the new sensing and cognitive capabilities cited, we are able to provide a system architecture that balances the features needed for a detection tool that can be used across the detection space. The sensor provides the means to identify the threat and the resultant physical form factor gives HEXWAVE the agility to be positioned where security operations need it to be for stand-off intervention. Simply stated, this enables the scanning to be at the right place and at the right time to prevent an attack.”
“That holistic view is what will make the difference to protect our communities and restore that peace of mind to which we all strive. That’s a “game changer” of which we can all be proud.”
Liberty Defense Board of Directors
Disclosure: Liberty Defense Technologies is an advertiser and client of ours and we own shares.