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Setting a New Standard For Safety, Security and User Experience

Blog Post
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Mike Ellenbogen Headshot
Mike Ellenbogen
Founder, Chief Innovation Officer
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Publish date

Aug 6, 2021

Would you rely on a standard developed in the 1970s for gas-powered cars as the basis for operating a modern electric car? How about a 1970s standard for land lines to manage your smart phone? Seems pretty ridiculous to rely on decades-old standards to define, inform and keep up with today’s pace of innovation and the varied ways technology has shaped lives over the past 10 years, let alone the past 50. 

Yet, when it comes to our safety when we gather in groups in public places, the only “standards” our industry has available to measure the effectiveness of our security technology was developed in the 1970s for uses that just don’t apply in today’s world and for today’s threats. Not only that but these standards are also based on old analog technology—walk through metal detectors—that are even older than the standards themselves and are incapable of meeting today’s needs for modern weapons detection.  

So, you see why I put the word “standards” in quotation marks. In reality, there has never been a security and safety standard that was designed specifically to meet the needs of today’s modern venue—able to specifically and accurately detect weapons while delivering a free-flow, touchless and friction-free experience to visitors, employees, and other patrons. There weren’t many 80,000 seat stadiums in the early 1900s when metal detectors were first deployed. For decades, security professionals have been hindered by static, outdated technology as they try to react to a new threat environment in today’s dynamic world. 

Until now, of course.   

Today’s standard for physical safety and security must address an era in which soft targets, weapons proliferation, and a global pandemic have dramatically and permanently changed the security landscape. A modern solution must detect weapons, not just metal. It must go beyond security—meeting the concerns and expectations of visitors for a touchless, seamless experience, whether attending a sporting event, concert, mall, school, workplace, or any other places where people gather. 

Eight years ago, when we started Evolv, it was clear that the tools organizations were using for security and safety at their points of entry were obsolete at best, and dangerous at worst. Metal detectors were originally designed primarily for applications such as courts and prisons to prevent a small number of visitors from walking in with small contraband, such as razors or pocketknives.   

The standards developed in the 1970s were based on this old technology and established by the National Institute of Justice for courts and jails, and then adapted by the US FAA, Transportation Security Administration, and other regulators for aviation security. There were no cell phones in the ’70s, no proliferation of assault weapons, no steady drumbeat of gun-related violence.  

Relying on those standards and that technology just doesn’t meet today’s security needs. It forces people to queue in long lines, which creates another potential target for attackers. It forces them to hand their personal belongings to strangers, which is anathema to a safe and pleasant experience with COVID now a daily part of our lives. Worse, the standards are designed to detect metal, not weapons, which requires everyone to dump their pockets and virtually every bag to be searched. Because they weren’t willing to create a line around the block, many organizations avoided using metal detectors and just relied on a visible guard presence, handbag checks by security personnel or, often, no security at all.  

A new standard for detecting weapons at modern venues is needed and was one of the reasons we started Evolv. As I say perhaps far too often, some things have to be believed in order to be seen. We believed we could build a new system that could discriminate weapons from the innocuous everyday objects we all carry while allowing the free flow of people. We could see a new standard because we believed it could be built and, in fact, we could be the ones to build it. 

Evolv Express® is the culmination of years of hard work to develop what I consider to be “wicked smaht” (pronounced in a Boston accent) software, leveraging technology advances that would have seemed like science fiction back in the 1970s. These include advanced video analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, sensors, and more.  

It has taken us the better part of six years to perfect the technology. With the help of our early customers and our talented team, the Express is the product that fulfills the original vision we had for Evolv. Our system sets a new standard for physical security because it delivers what venues need, now and into the future, including: 

  • Digital technology hardware and software systems that replace obsolete metal detectors with modern weapons detectors. 
  • Free-flow, frictionless screening, with a touch-free experience for patrons in a post-COVID environment. 
  • Simplified deployment, management, upgrades, and operations. 
  • The opportunity for organizations and security leaders to improve security, increase safety, deliver a great user experience and significantly reduce security costs—all at the same time.  

The world is a very different place than it was in the 1970s when the existing “standards” for physical security were adopted. A new standard is needed to adapt to this new world and the current threat environment. We believe the Evolv Express is the next industry standard. Why? Because it fulfills our core mission of making the world safer.  

Mike Ellenbogen Headshot
Mike Ellenbogen
Founder, Chief Innovation Officer

Mike Ellenbogen is a member of the Evolv Technology Executive Leadership Team, where he serves as Chief Innovation Officer. Mike co-founded the company along with Anil Chitkara in August 2013. Mike is a veteran of the physical security and detection industry, serving as an executive for companies including PerkinElmer, Vivid Technologies, and General Catalyst. His past work includes founding and serving as Chief Executive Officer of Reveal Imaging Technologies, where he helped revolutionize the X-ray imaging and automated detection technologies for the security industry. Prior to founding Evolv, he and Anil served as Executives in Residence (EIR) at General Catalyst Partners, focusing on investing in early-stage hardware and software companies in analytical instruments, sensors and related services markets. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Colgate University. He holds nineteen patents in the field of X-ray inspection and automated detection technology and is well-known as a leader within the security industry.

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