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Protecting Your Communities with AI: Live Discussion Recap

Protecting Your Communities with AI: Live Discussion Recap

AEYE Defend Transcript Teaser Article


Our recent discussion with Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union and 21st Century AEYE delved into the implementation of AEYE Defend, an AI-powered weapons detection platform. Watch the full discussion here.

Together, we explored the collaborative efforts behind planning and deploying this innovative solution, gaining insights into Cy-Fair FCU's objectives to enhance security for their branches, staff, and members while prioritizing data privacy.

AEYE Defend isn't just transforming the landscape of bank and credit union security; it's also revolutionizing safety protocols in schools nationwide, safeguarding communities, and ensuring the well-being of financial institution consumers. Discover how this pioneering technology is contributing to a safer tomorrow for all. Join the conversation and stay ahead of financial institution security with AEYE Defend. Meet the speakers:

Cameron Dickey  |  President/CEO, Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union 

Cameron Dickey is an award-winning executive and innovator within the credit union industry. Mr. Dickey has led Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union as President/CEO since 2012. Prior to his tenure with CFFCU, Mr. Dickey led the state-wide Sales and Marketing operations of a multi-national Title and Escrow company as the Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Stewart Title. He previously served as President/CEO of Providence Federal Credit Union in Portland, Oregon until 2007.

Said El-Bilani  |  Founder & CEO, 21st Century AEYE 

Said El-Bilani, the Chief Founder of The Bilani Foundation, leads global initiatives for peace promotion, poverty reduction, and educational equity. As the Founder & CEO of 21st Century AEYE, he pioneers AI and Machine-Learning solutions to detect weapon threats in our communities, ultimately saving lives. With a background in International Affairs and Security Studies, Mr. Bilani has served in strategic roles at the U.S. Department of State and teaches leadership and politics at Harvard University. He is a prominent commentator on U.S. political affairs in the Middle East and North Africa.

Moderated by Jenny Clawson-Peel  |  VP of Strategic Partnerships & Business DevelopmentFTSI 

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Jenny Peel: Cameron, for our attendees today, can you give us a little overview of your project with AEYE Defend and why we're even here today, what we're discussing?

Cameron Dickey: We're long-time customers of FTSI. And so, as a financial institution like the other clients who are on [this webinar], we have sort of a standing posture where we have to work through various, different security threats.

Our journey was really that we saw our local school district looking at a solution to protect students and teachers and this sort of surfaced the 21st Century AEYE solution on our radar and we are an organization that aspires to be innovative and to try new things.

We are an early group of adopters for ITM's and really changing the way that we provide the customer experience for us in our lobbies. And we've tried to find other ways to be forward thinking and sort of stretch our own thinking and be exposed to new ideas.

So, as we became familiar with the solution and what it meant, it began to sort of create some discussions amongst our executive team and also with our board about how could we benefit, and should we benefit, from this type of solution? Could it be applicable to our branches? Could be applicable to our corporate office?

We have a long-standing partnership with the school district and a love for what they do. A lot of what they do and sort of inspires and has been infused into the organization over now, almost 68 years. And so, the idea of being concerned about the people that are around you and the people that are making an impact in our community. Anything that does that and is within our reach and our graph, we feel like there's a responsibility as well as an opportunity to leverage new solutions.

Jenny Peel: Were there other solutions that you had looked at or why did you specifically decide to partner with FTSI?

Cameron Dickey: Yeah, there were two aspects of what sort of drew us to this solution. One very early in hearing that the district was looking at potential solutions, we learned of a few differentiating qualities about the 21st Century solution.

One of those aspects was that the data that that is captured during storing the video and the facial recognition that allows the software to detect an individual and sort of follow that individual from camera to camera using the software so that if you do have an alert, you know where that person has gone and you're able to track down what activities occurred that prompted the alert and know where that person currently is, as long as they're within the scope of a camera, or at least with the last camera that they resided on.

In this particular instance, the 21st Century AEYE solution was appealing to me because that data never leaves the system, it never leaves our business. And so, as a financial institution, we are taught and held to a very high privacy standard confidentiality standard, and the idea that this solution could give us some additional advanced warning and layer on top of our existing security system while also being something that was secure and private and have that information stay within our organizational walls made us zero in on this solution rather quickly. 


Jenny Peel: Said I'm throwing it to you. So, you have a very strong background in education, and I thought it was interesting with your background and your involvement in national and international security, international relations, and now with 21st Century, can you tell us a little bit about like why you decided to create the solution and what you were trying to achieve?

Said El-Bilani: Absolutely. And thank you to everyone who joined our session today. So, really, the impetus to this was I had a friend who lost his sister, unfortunately, to a school shooting and that was in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting here in Parkland, FL. And that's just one of many, many shootings we've seen from Columbine back in 1999 to the last school shooting. I think, even in Texas, that just happened. So, 21st Century's mission really envisions a world in which communities near and far are free from being in the next target of an active shooting. We're a visionary, albeit practical, forward-looking a-politically pragmatic solution. We try and aim to provide a decades old solution to this decades old problem. We want to ensure the safety and security of students, teachers and staff both in the workplace, public and private, while strengthening the resilience of schools, institutions, families and communities the nation over, and I know this is really at the heart of the story of the Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union. So that was our original mission.

The mission started at Harvard. That's when I was a student, back when I was a graduate student. Now I teach there, but this was when the idea really came to fruition and so in many respects, we predated the AI boom, the artificial intelligence, the research and development that went into this was back in 2019 until the company was conceived back in 2020.

Really that was the starting point. It was schools. Unfortunately, every year, parents pray, politicians promise a solution to shootings and understanding the reality of that. It's a political football that gets thrown back and forth through every shooting. And we've seen that permeate not only in schooling institutions, but also in the workplace, in financial institutions and other environments as well, and so this was the idea to segue into the financial institution category wasn't even a thought. It was just the next order of business, especially as it concerns the arrangement of the Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union being a part of the Cy-Fair ISD and being a neighboring institution. So that's really the start of it. And since then, we've seen the emerging needs of it, both nationally and internationally. In different markets as well, and we hope to scale the solution to the greatest extent possible really to give this added layer of security for preventative safety and security to empower deterrence and resilience in these institutions to overcome these kinds of threats.

Jenny Peel: And I'm curious if you could explain to the group what AI machine learning is, how does it enable AI Defend to work? Is there a difference between that and Terminator? I think a lot of people have fears that things are going to get a life of their own, right? So maybe you can explain a little bit about how the technology works for those who are not familiar.

Said El-Bilani: Great question and a very much anticipated question. So, we all hear about AI and the uncertainties that come with it. You know the concerns; is it going to take our jobs, is it going to change our lives, the quality of our life as we know it? And I say yes, but not in the way that you would think.

So, with respects to the different concerns about AI, you have to understand the AI and to demystify, you have to really understand that there's three categories of AI. There's Artificial Narrow Intelligence, Artificial General Intelligence, and Artificial Super Intelligence. Right now, AI as a field, as a sector, as a discipline, as a study, however you look at it, it's Artificial Narrow Intelligence.

Artificial Narrow Intelligence, in all realms, as we know it, it's it hasn't gotten to being able to behave in a human like way, right? So, it's programmed to do one thing, and it does that solely. Artificial General Intelligence is when you program it to do one thing, it has a mind of its own, goes on to do other things, taking on human-like qualities. With our different subjectivities, right, ‘well this doesn't look like a weapon, but it could be a weapon. So, I'm going to decide it's a weapon’ and whatnot. It goes down that rabbit hole. So, with AGI, AI can learn, perceive, understand and function completely like a human being. That is not what we are. We're Artificial Narrow Intelligence. I would say we're at least a decade too early for AGI, and maybe several decades too early for ASI, that's Skynet, Terminator, all those sci-fi movies that you know. And so, what do we make of that?

As it concerns 21st Century AI and our product offering AEYE Defend, our software is programmed to do simply one task and one task only, and that is to detect weapons.

But Artificial Narrow Intelligence, for all intents and purposes, can only perform a specific task autonomously. And that's really the beauty with what we're providing. A human can sit behind several cameras and have fatigue just watching cameras all day long 24/7. And then lo and behold, a perpetrator comes in with a weapon and you aren't watching, right? Humans only have a certain capacity. What this does is it pretty much automates that process. So autonomously, 24/7, it's scanning and watching for weapons that emerge in your workplace.

But these machines can do nothing more than what they are programmed to do. Automation is very important, but I want to also make the claim that we also value the human interface in this, and so a human referee is very much important. So, an AI needs a human to be its referee. And how that emerges with our product is, upon detection of a weapon, our client would receive an alert. This would happen in real time, and then from there, as the human, they can decide whether to escalate this threat, whether to enact the different security procedures at a financial institution, to lock it down, whatever needs to be done.

Or they can deescalate it as well, ‘this is probably not a threat, this is probably not a concern, right?’ And when you escalate it, you can also escalate it to other people on your staff. So you can send an alert to your to your leadership, to your middle leadership, maybe to your resource officer, your security officer at the institution. And then also if you want, to your patrons. In terms of your protocol for security, that is entirely up to you.

But I just want to make the claim that we value the human in this, this is simply just taking the process that a human does, the redundancies of it, and it automates it to where it's doing it 24/7, solely doing that and nothing else. And so that's, that's the concerns about AI. But I would hesitate to say -- We are not anywhere near ASI and all your imaginations that come with that.


Jenny Peel: Thanks for clarifying that. So, using existing security cameras that people have, surveillance cameras, the AI can actually see in real time any weapon that's exposed. Is that correct?

Said El-Bilani: Absolutely. So that's essentially how it works. It works in a three-pronged fashion. It's very simple. It detects it, locates, and it alerts. So, upon a weapon emerging in the interface of a camera, it would detect that weapon. Upon detection, it also annotates a location to where that is. In a matter of seconds, this alert would come via a mobile app, which we have an app on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, 'AEYE Defend.’

Our client would already have that app. Upon detection they would receive an alert indicating the time, the location, and several different interfaces that they can go into, and this is all in a matter of seconds. They can enact the special panic alert technology. They can contact local authorities, they can escalate it to other people. They have a range of options. This all happens in a matter of seconds-- and it's very important to understand what I mean by a matter of seconds. Because we've seen through data that these active shootings, what determines life and death, is often, really, it comes down to seconds, and I think it's seven seconds or so between each life being taken, and often perpetrators come in with large weapons to enact as many tragedies as they can as fast as possible before being detected.

We've seen this happen in schools. I think schools are our best example of this. They come in. Nobody knows where they are. They enact that harm, and then by the time the police are there, by the time the police know who they are, by the time they have an ID on them, I think they've pretty much done what they wanted to do. And so the other value proposition that we propose is also having that picture of the perpetrator with the weapon in an alert can allow our clients to contact authorities and to give a perfect idea of the person, even a picture of the person or a video, because it does send picture and video as well, of how that person appears, so that upon arriving at a campus or institution, you know exactly who to look for, you know who exactly the perpetrator is. And so those seconds matter. Seconds that matter a great deal.

(Cy-Fair FCU first implemented this solution at their corporate offices. They experience a range of clientele and have been targets of many security incidents in the 60,000 square foot space, prompting the first location to receive AEYE Defend’s technology.)

Cameron Dickey: This [corporate office] seemed like a wise place to start with for this type of technology. Something that was sort of a big ‘aha’ for me as we explored this solution was that in the past our security cameras were exclusively about evidence of a crime. It was about chronicling something that had happened in the past, and the potential to add technology that made it a detection system that would catch something that was unfolding in real time and possibly even catch it before somebody's injured, before the commissioning of the crime, was extremely attractive to us and pushing back the perimeter for when a weapon might be involved. 

I'll echo what Said said, talking about the process that occurs when they a shooting is occurring; we had provided active shooter training to our staff and much of the training was around what things we could do to prepare in advance and what things should occur when a shooting has started. There's a premise there that assumes that the first shot has been fired, a gun has been displayed, and they're sort of inside the perimeter at that point and your time to prepare is over and now you have time to react. The solution through 21st Century was very appealing to me because it pushed that parameter back, potentially might catch something either in the parking lot or we also have them in the interior of the building before they get to areas that that contain our employees or our building tenants.

And so, one was the early detection, that was extremely important to us. And then secondly was the ability, as Said alluded to, to be able to provide accurate information to law enforcement. What were they wearing, where are they, where did they go? Those things were of high priority for us. And so, we looked as we started to do the project, we immediately turned back to FTSI because all of our security cameras are installed through our partnership with FTSI. Our alarms are monitored by FTSI, our door FOB system we've installed with the technicians at FTSI. And so, it was a natural fit for us to go to FSI about how we could potentially have this solution and integrate it with our existing securities system.

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Jenny Peel: So, what would you say to people who say, ‘Oh well, we don't really have any violence where we are,’ or, ‘we haven't had shooting or robbery in a long time.’ What's your perspective, your lens?

Said El-Bilani: A lot of people typically say, ‘well, I don't anticipate a shooting happening. I mean, we haven't had it in the past. I don't see it happen. I don't think there's an immediate need for this, maybe sometime down the road.’ And then that ‘down the road’ happens faster than you could even imagine so, I would just say it's all about preparation. Failing to prepare is preparation to fail, so invest in added layers of security. Our technology AEYE Defend is like an insurance policy.

With it, you've transformed your reactive CCTV camera setup into a proactive solution that works 24/7, scanning for weapons and other threats.

It gives your institution an appeal and a luster to it. ‘Look, we take safety and security extremely important and we're sparing no expense. We're sparing nothing. We are going to make this the safest and most secure place where you would like to do banking and work with us and be our patron.’

Data shows that workplaces are the most common mass shooting sites even more than schools now so, and that could be attributed to many reasons, right? Whether it's the scrambled customers, or the scrambled employees, or in the case of financial institutions, customers not happy about being denied a loan or a mortgage, or even being charged the overdraft fee or whatever it may be.

So, the reality is as old as time, right that banks are money and money is banks and so if you're a perpetrator wanting money, wanting to do harm, wanting an easy way out, a bank or financial institution is the first place you would go.

Ultimately, I'm sure all your financial institutions got on with cameras, right? But now we're getting into the 21st century, getting from the reactive to the proactive so that you can ensure these challenges don't emerge in your workplace. So, it's an easy question and I think the answer to it comes easily as well. It's very important. Life. Nothing is more important than safeguarding that.

Something that sets AEYE Defend apart from any other AI companies is their dedication and complete commitment to data sovereignty and data autonomy.

Said El-Bilani: And again, the beauty with what we do is we do not utilize your data to create that data for us, for the betterment of the product. Rather it is created in lab, in home, in house, and it's not utilizing your data, your sensitive data to create that.

We've had clients who were able to invest in this technology, who were able to utilize this technology and through utilizing it, they've been able to lower their insurance premiums because the insurance would be less of a liability now that they have a technology that works to prevent these kinds of threats from happening there.