10 times faster than a metal detector: AI Technology changing how local fans get into big events

BOSTON — Whether you’re heading to Taylor Swift concerts this weekend, a performance at the Boch Center Theater or a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, you may notice the lines move a lot faster passing through security. The venues have recently added AI technology to their entrances.

“The last thing we want anyone doing is standing in line trying to get into the building or the ballpark,” said Pete Nesbit, the Senior VP of Ballpark Operations with the Red Sox. Fenway just ditched the old-fashioned metal detectors and upgraded to ‘Evolv Express Technology’ in April.

“It really helps with efficiency and our number one priority is the safety of everyone in the park,” Nesbit said.

“What the system here is accomplishing to do is provide that safe zone and detect threats but not encumber people with emptying their pockets, evolve VP of Product Management Steve Morandi told Boston 25 news. He says this new free-flow system allows multiple people to pass through at a time, at a rate of about 4,000 people per hour.

That’s about ten times faster than a metal detector.

So how does it all work?

Morandi says ‘Evolv’ uses artificial intelligence to detect weapons – like guns, knives and explosive devices, while it learns to ignore other harmless metal items like keys and phones.

The system will beep if it detects a potential threat, and that’s when the camera turns on – showing a box that pinpoints exactly where that weapon may be located. If that happens – security will check that person passing through.

“Because it’s an AI-driven system, a really important part of the system is there’s no bias, the technology is making the decision of whether or not that individual should go through a secondary search, there’s never an individual making that decision,” Morandi said.

Evolv told Boston 25 the technology in use does not collect, process or use any personal identifiable information. It doesn’t use facial recognition. Instead, it evaluates the *items* passing through – not the people – to determine whether there may be a threat.

Some fans we spoke with liked the convenience. Others were concerned about the newness of the technology and where it’s pulling data from.

Boch Center Theater in Boston also uses the technology now. Operations Director Eric Neill says so far, the pros have outweighed the cons.

“Being able to get people in quickly is very very significant,” Neill said. “It has helped our neighborhood relations as well, because any line backup can affect neighboring businesses.”

Neill says they used to need staff at 8 doors while people entered for a show, now they only use 2 doors.

“The customer service aspect of it that’s really improved, you can’t put value on that so we really feel we’ve enhanced ourselves by adding this cost to our bottom line.” Neill said.

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