The University of Wisconsin Police Department has announced that they will beta test a new form of technology in weapon detection named “Hexwave” in spring 2020.
“At UW-Madison, the safety and security of our campus is a top priority,” UWPD Chief Kristen Roman said in a press release. “We’re excited about testing this technology, as we’re always trying to find options that could keep our community even more safe.”
Hexwave combines 3D radar imaging and artificial intelligence to detect weapons among large crowds without disrupting the flow of people progressing through lines, according to the UWPD press release.
This new technology will create 3D images of objects detected on a person’s body, rather than images of the person’s body, Liberty Defense media relations staff Brittany Whitmore said.
“It uses Active 3D imaging technology that is licensed from MIT Lincoln Labs,” Whitmore said. “This component acts as the ‘eyes’ of the system. Active 3D imaging means that the panels are sending and receiving information in real-time.”
Hexwave can help detect both metallic and non-metallic objects, including guns, assault rifles, knives and explosives. It can be used both indoors and outdoors and does not require people to remove any items of clothing or to undergo pat-downs, according to the UWPD press release.
UWPD’s Captain of Field Services Jason Whitney emphasized the significance of testing new technology for safety reasons on campus.
“We are always looking at new ways to protect our community from ongoing threats,” Whitney said. “Any type of technology that is out there should be looked at and better understood.”
Whitney said the technology will come at no cost to the university or UWPD, as this is part of the testing program which will allow both Liberty Defense and UWPD to learn more about possible security measures.
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The beta testing will take about one week to complete and will occur on the UW campus, Whitmore said.
“Liberty Defense is funding 100% of the deployment of the test assets and support staff,” Whitmore said. “UWPD is providing only the sites and security staff to participate with Liberty staff.”
The goal of the beta testing is to receive feedback on the system in a typical university environment. This will allow Liberty Defense to refine and adjust Hexwave based on the testing during spring next year, Whitmore said.
In another attempt to take safety precautions on campus, UWPD has announced plans to install locks on more than 1,800 classroom doors, according to AP News.
According to AP, UW allotted UWPD $2.8 million in 2018 to implement the locks. While the process is already 55% completed, the work will be officially finished in June 2020.
While the project regarding the locks is soon to be completed, it is still uncertain whether Hexwave will be formally established on campus, Whitney said.
“We are not implementing anything,” Whitney said. “We are testing a product out to see how it works and if this would be something we would be interested in using in the future to secure our venues.”
The technology could possibly be used for venues like the Kohl Center, which currently utilizes metal detectors that could slow down crowds, according to AP News.
Roman said she hopes the testing of the new technology will become another asset to UWPD’s already equipped array of security measures.
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“The security of our campus is, of course, a top priority,” Roman said in the Liberty Defense press release. “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 [of Hexwave] in 2020.”