Telos CEO John Wood and Omnilert CEO Ara Bagdasarian developed a rapport and mutual respect for each other years ago as they worked on an initiative to boost Loudoun’s nighttime economy. Now, the two have put their minds together to develop technology that could save lives.
Wood and Bagdasarian recently announced a partnership whereby the Telos Ghost visual obfuscation network is integrated into the Omnilert Gun Detect platform. They market it as the industry’s first AI-powered visual gun detection solution.
Bagdasarian’s Leesburg-based Omnilert was on the cutting edge of campus notification technology even before mass shootings became a tragically common headline. The company has since gone a step further, evolving “where AI meets the Internet of Things,” he said. This means going beyond mass notifications to systems that allow doors to be locked with access control, or loudspeakers to be activated with notifications.
The marriage between the companies’ technologies now takes it even a step further.
“We’re protecting the IP address, Ara is protecting people’s lives,” Wood said. “On the one hand we’re making sure adversaries can’t hurt you froman internet point of view. Ara’s technology makes sure someone can’t hurt you [physically]. It’s the coming together of physical and logical security.”
The way the technology works is that Omnilert Gun Detect alerts administrators to the presence of a gun on a camera. The administrators can then make a quick determination whether to activate real-time emergency plans, like sending notifications, locking doors, or alerting authorities. If something is detected that is not a threat, a child playing with a water gun, for instance, the administrator can let the system know the object is harmless.
“It’s not only detecting a firearm, it’s what happens after that,” Bagdasarian said. “You can initiate entire actions in a matter of seconds. In a school or corporate setting, you’re giving people a head start to seek shelter. You’re summoning first responders and law enforcement within seconds rather than waiting until a shot is fired.”
Bagdasarian harkens back to the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL that claimed the lives of 14 students and three school staff members.
“The gunman exposed the gun in the stairwell and there was a camera and it was captured [on video]. Had things been different, can you imagine if the gun was detected when he pulled it out of his backpack?” he said.
Where Ashburn-based Telos’ technology comes into play is via its ghost network.
“What we do as a company in general is we protect the cloud, the enterprise. We do cybersecurity for people. More and more what’s happening is that people are realizing that computers are not computers anymore—computers are cars, HV/AC systems, cameras. All of those have IP addresses that are hackable. From our point of view, we want to protect the IP process of all these things, the Internet of Things. When I saw what Ara has, it’s not a big leap to go from protecting your network and people’s identities, to actually protecting people full stop. For me, it was sort of a natural extension to what we do,” Wood said.
Wood and his team at Telos actually borrowed a technological breakthrough used in World War II to create its ghost network—signal hopping, where military members would change radio frequencies to avoid enemy detection. With Telos’ ghost network, instead it is IP hopping. When someone signs in to the ghost network at Telos, the IP address may first appear as Ashburn, VA, but then could quickly change to somewhere in Europe, for example, and then another global location every few seconds.
“Unlike all of those other kinds of solutions that are out there that try to do missed attribution or obfuscation, the ghost doesn’t leave a trail. The adversary can’t hack back. The adversary cannot paint a target on a customer. Cameras can be enabled right away using Gun Detect to outwardly protect those customers as well. Embedding Ghost and embedding Gun Detect in other solutions, that enables us to scale to a much bigger level,” he said.
Both Wood and Bagdasarian note the technology can be relevant to any number of types of campuses, from schools and universities, to medical and business campuses, to law enforcement and government facilities, and more. The two sadly note that mass shootings are no longer limited to workplaces or schools and news this week of a mass shooting at a Boulder, CO, grocery store makes that all the more apparent.
The duo both express optimism over the partnership and how it can help protect people and networks globally.
“It all started here in Loudoun,” Wood said. “It is something that we’re both very proud of.”
“It’s nice to do something locally and make a global impact,” Bagdasarian added.