Two Loudoun CEOs Pair Up for Gun Detection Technology

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 from an 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.

3 thoughts on “Two Loudoun CEOs Pair Up for Gun Detection Technology

  • 2021-03-24 at 4:42 pm

    “The administrators can then make a quick determination whether to activate real-time emergency plans, like sending notifications, locking doors, or alerting authorities.”

    Kids would be safer if teachers who want to carry for protection were able to do so. Much cheaper. More effective.

  • 2021-03-24 at 5:19 pm

    “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.

    Always admirable when someone want to protect our kids.

    The effort has been underway for many, many years to disarm law abiding citizens, which makes everyone LESS SAFE.

    In this case, Nikolas Cruz walked by the sign at Douglas High School in Parkland FL that said “Gun Free Zone”.

    The bad guy did not follow the rules and a tragic loss of life unfolded.

    Maybe the proposed technology could have saved a few lives, but the killing does not stop until an armed response arrives on the scene.

  • 2021-03-25 at 12:58 pm

    While I’m not going to tell these two gentlemen to stop their efforts I will remind people how difficult this is to do in real-time. First, it would seem in most instances, seeing a firearm on a camera might cut a few seconds off a response. But the effective response may still be many minutes away. I think law enforcement at the Virginia Beach incident arrived in about 5 minutes and the first police in Boulder may have arrived 10 minutes or so after the first shot was reported. Law enforcement often takes much longer to respond.

    Secondly, the incidence of “false positives” would almost certainly be alarming. Dark corridors, poor lighting, low-res cameras, fleeting and moving images will lead to either an enormous number of false positives or, possibly worse, false negatives, where security monitors are hesitant to make a decision.

    Technology, like 911 operators, are not “foolproof.” Both make mistakes and those mistakes often get people killed. I know a man who was nearly shot by police as he stood in his own front lawn at dusk helping an elderly parent who had fallen. Whoever “saw” the event didn’t see what they thought and called in an armed man possibly assaulting someone. It’s a stroke of luck no one was shot that night over an “object in the hand” that turned out to be his cell phone. Cameras may be a little better but ultimately, a person is making the decision.

    Police entering a building responding to an “armed intruder” call are quite likely to use more force more quickly. The combination of “false positives” and hyper-sensitized police, relying on technology alone sets the stage for more tragic shootings.

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