Is­raeli coun­ter­mea­sures

With Amer­ica and world Jewry still reel­ing from the Pitts­burgh mas­sacre, de­vel­op­ments are un­der way in the Start-up Na­tion to help pre­vent or at least mit­i­gate the next shoot­ing spree

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • By HA­LEY CO­HEN

The Jewish world is still pro­cess­ing the dead­li­est at­tack ever against Jews on Amer­i­can soil af­ter a vir­u­lent an­ti­semite stormed the Tree of Life sy­n­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh two weeks ago, mur­der­ing 11 and wound­ing six con­gre­gants at Shab­bat morn­ing ser­vices. Sadly, such tragedies have be­come all too com­mon in the US, home to nearly as many mass shoot­ings as days in the year.

The Oc­to­ber 27 mas­sacre in Pitts­burgh marked the 294th mass shoot­ing of the year, ac­cord­ing to the non­profit Gun Vi­o­lence Ar­chive, which tracks shoot­ings in the US. Amer­i­cans are more likely to die from gun vi­o­lence than many other lead­ing causes of death com­bined, with close to 11,000 peo­ple in the US killed in firearm as­saults each year.

Ideally, one of the best ways to pre­vent mass shoot­ings, ex­perts say, is to con­trol who can pur­chase and use a gun. In Is­rael, cit­i­zens who are li­censed to own a per­sonal weapon have gen­er­ally un­der­gone mil­i­tary train­ing. Guns are seen as a tool for self-de­fense only, not a hobby. De­spite a few hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ences in the con­text of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence, such as the as­sas­si­na­tion of prime min­is­ter Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the gun death rate in Is­rael is con­sis­tently lower than in­ter­na­tional av­er­ages. But in the US, the po­lit­i­cally pow­er­ful gun lobby cou­pled with re­cent Supreme Court de­ci­sions that ap­ply the Con­sti­tu­tion’s Sec­ond Amend­ment to per­sonal gun own­er­ship make sweep­ing gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion un­likely, es­pe­cially dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has made gun own­ers a core po­lit­i­cal con­stituency.

In light of this re­al­ity, tech­no­log­i­cal coun­ter­mea­sures, such as those be­ing de­vel­oped by Is­raeli en­trepreneurs and data sci­en­tists, might soon be avail­able to help Amer­i­can law en­force­ment and first re­spon­ders re­duce the scourge of gun vi­o­lence plagu­ing their coun­try. Th­ese gen­er­ally fall into two cat­e­gories: train­ing and tech­nol­ogy.

“The US is far be­hind Is­rael in the pre­ven­tion of mass shoot­ings and other dy­namic threats,” Scott Gold­stein, cap­tain of the Pikesville Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment in Bal­ti­more, Mary­land, told the Mag­a­zine. “Is­raelis have many years of ex­pe­ri­ence deal­ing with sui­cide bombers, stab­bings in buses – not to men­tion the [con­stant] state of war.”

Gold­stein added that de­spite all of th­ese threats, he feels safer walk­ing in the streets of Is­rael than he does at home in Bal­ti­more. “Is­raelis have more built-in se­cu­rity mea­sures in many places where there are large gath­er­ings. The mind-set of the aver­age Is­raeli is to be more vig­i­lant.”

Gold­stein is the US di­rec­tor of train­ing for the Emer­gency Vol­un­teers Project (EVP), an or­ga­ni­za­tion that pre­pares Amer­i­can first re­spon­ders to de­ploy to Is­rael in time of cri­sis. Since its in­cep­tion in 2009, EVP has trained close to 1,800 emer­gency re­spon­ders through­out the US and Is­rael.

“EVP is a tan­gi­ble demon­stra­tion of the un­break­able bonds be­tween Is­rael and Amer­ica. Through our pro­gram, Is­raeli res­cue ser­vices ob­tain re­li­able man­power dur­ing crises and the Amer­i­can emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel gain first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence in mass ca­sual and ter­ror­ism that make them bet­ter re­spon­ders

in their home com­mu­ni­ties,” Ei­tan Charnoff, di­rec­tor of Emer­gency De­ploy­ment and spokesper­son for EVP, told the Mag­a­zine.

While EVP’s pri­mary goal is to pro­vide Amer­i­can as­sis­tance to Is­rael dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters or ter­ror­ist at­tacks, Gold­stein echoed that the part­ner­ship goes both ways. When it comes to deal­ing with a mass ca­su­alty in­ci­dent, such as a shoot­ing, Gold­stein has brought back to Bal­ti­more what he’s learned from his Is­raeli peers.

“I’ve learned their tac­tics – ev­ery­thing from triage to trans­port,” he said. “Is­raelis are less tied to treat­ment pro­to­col, they are very fo­cused on trans­port pro­to­col. They use mo­tor­cy­cles to get into the scene and keep am­bu­lance trans­port out­side of the in­ci­dent to be able to get out of the scene faster,” a med­i­cal coun­ter­mea­sure that could im­prove out­comes for vic­tims of gun­shot wounds. “De­spite the cul­tural and lan­guage bar­ri­ers be­tween Amer­i­cans and Is­raelis, the level of trust that’s au­to­mat­i­cally there be­tween us is re­ally sig­nif­i­cant.”

AI and big data

A con­sul­tant in crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions who works for an Is­raeli big data com­pany and re­quested his and the com­pany’s name re­main anony­mous had an ex­pla­na­tion for Gold­stein’s claim that the US re­mains sig­nif­i­cantly be­hind Is­rael in pre­vent­ing mass shoot­ings.

“The ma­jor prob­lem is that US po­lice just don’t have enough money to process the in­for­ma­tion,” he said. “Tech­nolo­gies that over­come th­ese chal­lenges use ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and big data. They uti­lize data man­age­ment tools that can process vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited amounts of in­for­ma­tion,” he said, ref­er­enc­ing the same ma­chine-learn­ing tech­nol­ogy that al­lows the iPhone X to iden­tify a user’s face.

He added that po­lice don’t have the time or re­sources to do what tech­nol­ogy could quickly get done. “Au­to­matic tran­scrip­tion is still very dif­fi­cult, even for ma­chine learn­ing, but if po­lice had more data­bases to put in­for­ma­tion into, they could eas­ily use this. Right now po­lice would have to look man­u­ally through thou­sands of hours of video footage. The main thing is that tech­nol­ogy al­lows you to search quickly and trans­form in­for­ma­tion into some­thing that is search­able.”

Po­lice ca­pa­bil­ity to quickly search through footage wouldn’t just help them catch a sus­pect fol­low­ing a crime; it could ac­tu­ally pro­vide tools to pre­vent a mass shoot­ing be­fore it oc­curs.

“Pre­lim­i­nary signs can be iden­ti­fied, such as ex­pres­sive lan­guage on so­cial me­dia. It never hap­pens that some­one didn’t hate any­one yes­ter­day and then sud­denly wakes up and wants to shoot 20 peo­ple; there are al­ways warn­ing signs and you need to mon­i­tor from far back to pre­vent,” the con­sul­tant told the Mag­a­zine.

Re­searchers at Ben-Gu­rion Uni­ver­sity de­vel­oped an al­go­rithm based on those pre­lim­i­nary signs. Tech­nol­ogy called “nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing” iden­ti­fies school shoot­ers based on per­son­al­ity traits that ap­pear in their writ­ing. In their study, the re­searchers se­lected writ­ing by six shoot­ers in­volved in ma­jor school massacres, in­clud­ing Vir­ginia Tech. They com­pared their writ­ings with 6,000 other peo­ple (who are not shoot­ers), and had the com­puter iden­tify the shoot­ers.

The com­puter would take a word, for ex­am­ple, “de­pressed” and then find words that ap­pear in the same con­text, such as “sui­ci­dal,” “lonely” or “sad.” By do­ing so, it can de­ter­mine the de­gree to which feel­ing de­pressed is ex­pressed in the text. Once the num­ber of times each word was used is found, the tech­nol­ogy de­ter­mines the dis­tance be­tween each word. The closer to­gether each of the words are, the higher the ex­pres­sion of de­pres­sion is in the text. This method can be used for screen­ing of de­pres­sion in texts; the word that

is used can change based on what is be­ing tested for. While the com­puter was not able to se­lect in­di­vid­ual peo­ple, it did re­duce the num­ber of sus­pects to 3% of the orig­i­nal cho­sen peo­ple, which in­cluded the writ­ing of all six shoot­ers.

The crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­sul­tant noted, “About 50% of [mass ca­su­alty] cases could have been pre­vented by us­ing a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion with ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.” But what should be done about the other 50% – the in­stances when tech­nol­ogy wasn’t enough to stop a gun­man?

Im­prov­ing re­sponse times

Amir Elichai founded Carbyne four years ago fol­low­ing his own trau­matic event. When try­ing to call po­lice in Tel Aviv, he found their re­ac­tion was dan­ger­ously slow.

“They were ask­ing me so many ques­tions rather than just re­spond­ing to the in­ci­dent. What was my lo­ca­tion? Who were the peo­ple around me?” he said. Carbyne, re­ferred to as “the next gen­er­a­tion of 911,” is a call-han­dling plat­form that en­com­passes IP-based com­mu­ni­ca­tion fea­tures to help dis­patch­ers an­a­lyze and process what is hap­pen­ing in real time, pro­vide sup­port and slash time-to-dis­patch. The sys­tem in­te­grates into al­ready ex­ist­ing 911 tech­nol­ogy.

The com­pany has an of­fice in New York City but has yet to be used dur­ing an Amer­i­can mass shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to Elichai. Carbyne has been used – and saved lives – dur­ing a shoot­ing in Is­rael.

Re­tired Is­raeli po­lice bomb tech­ni­cian and counter-ter­ror­ism ex­pert Moshe Guttman in­sists that tech­nol­ogy should come sec­ond when pre­vent­ing, and re­spond­ing to, a mass shoot­ing. Dur­ing his 23 years as a bomb tech­ni­cian, Guttman par­tic­i­pated in and in­ves­ti­gated over 70 ter­ror­ist scenes and mass ca­su­alty in­ci­dents. Since re­tir­ing, he ded­i­cates his time to train Amer­i­cans how they can re­spond to ter­ror­ism the way Is­raelis do. He trav­els through the United States, hav­ing re­cently re­turned from a train­ing in Lake­wood, New Jersey, when he spoke to the Mag­a­zine.

“Hu­man re­sources should be No. 1 be­fore tech­nol­ogy. Tech­nol­ogy will as­sist, but it never trumps hu­man re­sources. The world is too con­cerned right now with more cam­eras, more ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence,” he said. Guttman em­pha­sized that most im­por­tant as­pects are pre­ven­tion and re­sponse.

“Is­rael is one of the only coun­tries that deals with pre­ven­tion. Most coun­tries spend bil­lions of dol­lars only on re­spond­ing. But what about how to pre­vent? That is what Is­rael brings. My doc­trine is if you do it well and put 70% of ef­forts into pre­ven­tion, you won’t need a re­sponse.”

Guttman’s tac­ti­cal train­ing, called To­tal So­lu­tions In­ter­na­tional, in­cludes self-de­fense – which he clar­i­fied is dif­fer­ent from krav maga. He said it is im­por­tant to know about pres­sure points. Guttman added that women are nat­u­rally more sus­pi­cious in po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions, a trait that could be help­ful for ev­ery­one.

“Train, pre­pare, change the mind-set. We are avail­able for ev­ery­one,” he said.

Fol­low­ing the Fe­bru­ary shoot­ing that left 17 stu­dents and in­struc­tors dead in Park­land, Florida, for­mer gov­er­nor of Arkansas Mike Huck­abee re­port­edly re­ceived heat for tweet­ing “just wak­ing up in Is­rael to news of heart­break­ing school shoot­ing in FL. Re­minded that Is­rael pretty much elim­i­nated it by plac­ing highly trained peo­ple strate­gi­cally to spot the one com­mon thread – not the weapon, but a per­son with in­tent.” Crit­ics of the politi­cian, who is a strict sup­porter of the right to bear arms, quickly re­sponded that it isn’t tight se­cu­rity that pro­tects Is­rael from shoot­ings, but laws that reg­u­late who can own and carry a gun.

But Huck­abee was par­tially right: the Start-up Na­tion has de­vel­oped coun­ter­mea­sures to mass shoot­ings that the US could ben­e­fit from.

(Reuters)

FOL­LOW­ING THE Oc­to­ber 27 shoot­ing, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and First Lady Me­la­nia Trump walk with Tree of Life sy­n­a­gogue rabbi Jef­frey My­ers as White House ad­vis­ers Ivanka Trump and hus­band Jared Kush­ner walk with Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin, out­side the sy­n­a­gogue on Oc­to­ber 30.

(Ei­tan Charnoff/EVP spokesman)

IN AC­TION: The Emer­gency Vol­un­teers Project trains Amer­i­can and Is­raeli first re­spon­ders to re­spond to mass causal­ity in­ci­dents.

(Cour­tesy)

MOSHE GUTTMAN: ‘Hu­man re­sources should be No.1 be­fore tech­nol­ogy.’

(Ei­tan Charnoff/EVP spokesman)

SINCE ITS in­cep­tion in 2009, EVP has trained close to 1,800 emer­gency re­spon­ders through­out the US and Is­rael.

(Iris Her­mon)

THE CARBYNE eco-sys­tem.

(Marc Is­rael Sellem)

IS­RAEL’S GUN death rate is con­sis­tently lower than in­ter­na­tional av­er­ages.

(Reuters)

NEW YORK Po­lice Depart­ment of­fi­cers con­duct searches be­fore the New York City Marathon on Novem­ber 4: ‘US po­lice don’t have the time or re­sources to do what tech­nol­ogy could quickly get done.’

(Aaron Fried­man)

WE ARE one: Mem­bers of Beit Shemesh’s Etz Haim (Tree of Life) sy­n­a­gogue gather on Novem­ber 2 to give a pre-Shab­bat pho­to­graphic ‘hug’ to their brethren at Pitts­burgh’s sim­i­larly named sy­n­a­gogue.

(Wiki­me­dia Com­mons)

VIR­GINIA TECH stu­dents hold a can­dle­light vigil af­ter a gun­man mas­sa­cred 32 at the Blacksburg, Vir­ginia uni­ver­sity on April 16, 2007. Ben-Gu­rion Uni­ver­sity re­searchers have de­vel­oped an al­go­rithm to pre­vent mass shoot­ings based on pre­lim­i­nary signs, us­ing writ­ing by six shoot­ers in­volved in ma­jor school massacres, in­clud­ing Vir­ginia Tech.

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