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Can Technology Prevent Acts of Gun Violence?

In a Newsweek piece, Peter Roff argues that traditional gun control measures may not be enough to stop mass shootings.

He cities the example of John South, “a man with more than 25 years of managerial experience in security and large-scale business operations who served in both the U.S. military and law enforcement, is trying to do.” After numerous mass shootings and terrorist attacks, South decided to set-up Patrocinium Systems to stave off potential attacks in the future.

The article breaks down the basics behind Patrocinium Systems:

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It is, in a sense, astonishingly simple. It relies on existing sensors and software to generate information about what’s happening as it happens when an event takes place. South suggests thinking of it as being like Waze—the smartphone mapping app that partially relies on user inputs to provide a real-time picture of what’s happening on the roads—but for crisis situations like bombings, shootings, fires and other events that trigger the need for first responders.

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It also details how “the system notifies users if they are in danger based on their location, allows people to check in as being “safe” or “unsafe,” and visualizes the real-time location of users for a heightened response.”

Roff caps off the article with following:

This is the kind of thinking America needs to take on the challenge posed by mass shootings. The frenzied demands made by politicians and anti-gun advocates in the aftermath of the latest tragedies might win them votes, but it won’t make us any safer. For that, we need visionaries like John South and others in the technology sector taking the lead.

Although it’s good that some people in the private sector are considering more market options to tackling the issue of gun violence and public safety, gun rights activists and others who believe in civil liberties should always remain vigilant.

Technology has a history of being co-opted by the state and used to undermine basic civil liberties. Indeed, the market has a role in trying to provide security services, but it’s best that the state stay out of the way.

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