Soon Cleveland Heights will have buildings outfitted with security systems that work by recognizing faces and voices.
The city is working with FST21, a company based in Israel that developed a product that it says can act like a security guard or doorman.
The machine, SafeRise, is programmed to read people’s faces, listen to their voices and even have a conversation and identify mannerisms. Instead of using keys or identification cards, the machine scans who is coming in and opens the door if it recognizes someone. If not, it will ask guests what their purpose is for stopping by or who they are visiting.
The system will either call the monitoring station if it thinks the person is an intruder, or call the person who the guests say they are meeting with. If a person inside the building grants permission, the door will open.
And the information can be recorded in a log to track visits to the building. The system can also build a database of criminals.
Maj. Gen Aharon Farkash and Avi Lupo, both CEOs of FST21, visited Cleveland Heights Monday and Tuesday to tell people about their product that they envision being used in government buildings, schools, luxury high rises and senior living communities, among other facilities.
“We developed the closest thing to the human brain that is able, in real time, to relay information,” Lupo said during a presentation Tuesday at the former Coventry School, where the company will have offices.
They met with Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson and chiefs from other communities including Shaker Heights, Rocky River and University Heights, said Howard Thompson, economic development director for Cleveland Heights. The plan is to install the security system at Coventry School, which will be a demonstration site for people interested in implementing the technology.
Thompson said the goal is to have Cleveland Heights be the hub of this and other technology for the entire region.
“The system is in no way just for the Cleveland Heights Community,” Thompson said. “We want to create the hub and build the energy around the hub.”
This would include other technology businesses, and Thompson said he hopes to attract companies such as those that install the SafeRise system.
Thompson said the system should be ready at Coventry within a month and a half, and it will cost the city $5,000.
The city then plans to install the machines at the police department in entryways, he said, but could not provide the cost yet.
Farkash, who founded the company, said the systems, on average, cost about $40,000 to $50,000, with a yearly maintenance and update fee of about $3,000. But he said this is flexible and also can vary.
SGI Global Business Advisors, a Cleveland-based company that helps government entities with international economic development, was hired by Cleveland Heights earlier this year to help attract companies like FST21 to the city.
FST21 visited Cleveland about a year ago during a conference, and liked Cleveland Heights because of its proximity to a variety of places it could implement the technology such as hospitals and schools, said Howard Gudell, founding partner of SGI.
“We picked Cleveland Heights because … of the diversity, because of the openness, because you have so many different attributes, and the size. We thought this would be the perfect laboratory,” Gudell said.
The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission still has to approve a for FST21 to use Coventry School, which should happen in the next two months, Thompson said.
The company would then open an office in the former elementary school with one to five employees, he said.
Farkash said he has systems in Florida, Texas, Los Angeles and in other areas of the U.S., and he hopes that the technology makes security more convenient, faster and safer.
He said he appreciates the support Mayor Ed Kelley and others in the city have given him.
“It’s a huge difference to sell for every developer or integrator a system, (then) to have a partner, (such) as a mayor of the city, and announcing I want to be a part of it, and then to encourage a lot of customers to buy the system … I believe in one city to have seven, eight or 10 systems, this will make a difference,” Farkash said. “To say Cleveland Heights is the leading hub for smart cities, and you have an example and a model to imitate.”
Farkash was worked in the Israel Defense Forces for several years before founding FST21, and said he wanted to build a system that could effectively reduce crime and terrorism threats without violating innocent people.
"It’s very nice to build something from the beginning, to create something new. It’s a real challenge."
To watch a video of how the system works, visit the FST21 site.