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Tampa company Lumina develops app to keep communities safe

Margie Manning

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Lumina S4 app

Lumina, a Tampa data analytics company, has launched S4, a crowd-sourced mobile app designed to protect communities.

Users are encouraged to “see something, say something” and to report suspicious behavior in real time using the app. Lumina takes the information it gets from app users and sends it to the appropriate authorities.

The app, and Lumina’s other technologies, could get an elevated profile after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order in February, focused on improving the safety of Florida schools.

That order calls for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to develop a broader and more comprehensive state threat assessment strategy and for the Department of Education to provide a centralized, integrated data repository and data analytics resources to improve access to timely school safety information.

“These actions recognize the role data integration, analytics and prioritization play in preventing mass violence attacks,” said Allan Martin, CEO of Lumina.

But finding threats hidden in the 44 billion gigabytes of data created on the internet every day is “like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Martin said.

One solution is apps like S4, he said. Florida is one of 19 states that has implemented the technology.

There are two reasons suspicious behavior reporting apps are effective.

First, several studies have found that perpetrators of mass attacks made “concerning communications” or behavior a high percentage of the time before the attack took place. One of those studies, by the Secret Service and the Department of Education, found that more than one person had prior knowledge about an attack in 60 percent of the incidents of school-based violence.

Second, reporting suspicious behavior can head off some violent attacks, according to a study released in December by San Jose State University. That study showed that 14 percent of attacks at public transportation facilities were prevented when passengers or staff reported concerning behaviors.

S4 and other apps remove barriers that previously existed for reporting suspicious behaviors, Martin said.

Other tools to prevent mass violence are machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“They create the equivalent of a super-charged Google search – all that publicly available data on the web can be searched for risks associated with violent attacks. Rather than weeding through thousands of search results, these technologies turn the data into actionable intelligence for law enforcement,” Martin said.

Lumina combines advanced computing techniques with human analysis to identify potentially catastrophic threats and risks, with a focus on security issues.

Here are the top five types of reports that have come into the Lumina system:

  • Drug misuse – 13 percent
  • Bullying – 10 percent
  • Suicide risk – 8 percent
  • Other suspicious activity – 8 percent
  • Firearms threat – 6 percent
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