Brooklyn Boro

Borough President to Local Colleges: Make us a Smart Gun

Adams Will Award $1M to the School Team that Develops the Most Efficient ‘Safe’ Weapon

August 16, 2016 By James Harney Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Eric Adams speaks at Borough Hall on Tuesday afternoon. Photo courtesy of Erica Sherman, Borough President's Office
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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams launched his Smart Gun Design Competition Tuesday, calling on students at local colleges to create a gun that can’t be fired by an unauthorized user — and offering a $1 million prize to the school team that can do it.

“We expect every other product, from cars to children’s toys, to include safety features that protect the safety of authorized users,” Adams said at a Borough Hall press conference. ““We need to start applying the same basic principle to firearms, which kill tens of thousands of people each year.”

“Engaging young people on this important issue of ending senseless gun violence — an issue that has deeply impacted them — is a smart way to reach the solutions needed to save lives,” the borough president added. “Our goal is to go to the ground zero of technology: our colleges.” 

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At the conclusion of the competition — held in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ), New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) and the Smart Tech Challenge Foundation — Adams will award the $1 million prize from his capital budget to the college or university that has designed the best smart gun.

The competition will be judged by a committee that will select the five best ideas submitted. Adams will allocate $10,000 in seed money from his discretionary budget to further their work. In addition to the borough president, the committee will include MOCJ Executive Director of Community Engagement Eric Cumberbatch, NYAGV Executive Director Leah Gunn Barrett, Strategic Operational Solutions, Inc. test engineer Jonathan Hayes and Smart Tech Challenge Foundation President Margot Hirsch. 

The concepts will be evaluated based on their adaptability into the market, their feasibility, flexibility in application, potential impact on public safety and potential for other uses, and will be tested in an NYPD lab.

“The NYPD is pleased to support Borough President Adams’ Smart Gun Design Competition,” NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker said at the press conference. “We are certainly in favor of exploring innovative technology that has the potential to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from accidental or unauthorized uses of guns.”

Cumberbatch of MOCJ said, “Gun violence continues to drop in New York City. To drive it down even further, we need to add innovative strategies like technology and community involvement to our already strong and effective data-driven policing.” 

Representatives of two borough-based colleges — NYU Tandon School of Engineering and New York City College of Technology — that have expressed an interest in participating in the competition also attended the kickoff event. 

“These types of public-private partnerships are a perfect example of how government and higher education should work together,” said Katepalli Sreenivasan, dean of NYU Tandon School of Engineering. “I look forward to the innovations that our students create in order to bring technology into service for society.”

Teams will enter the Smart Gun Design Competition between Sept. 1, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017, submitting their design by the deadline of June 1, 2017. One entry will be accepted per team and schools can enter as many teams as they wish. One graduate student or professor must be on each team with undergraduate students. The team leader must be affiliated with the school, but team membership can be open to the public. A design expo will be held in the summer of 2017, at which time the winning entry will be announced.

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