Jewish Detroit To Get New Security Devices
Federation works with Israeli startup headed by native Detroiter to enhance community security.
By Jackie Headapohl
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit is working with Gabriel, a Tel Aviv-based startup company, to develop and install security devices in a number of buildings throughout the community.
Founded in 2016, Gabriel has created an easy-to-use solution for so-called “soft targets,” such as synagogues, community centers and schools. While the system will not prevent attacks, it will help speed and coordinate the response to an attack to significantly minimize the impact and save lives.
Gabriel’s Detroit Roots
Gabriel CEO and co-founder Yoni Sherizen, son of Dov and Esther Sherizen, grew up in Oak Park as a member of Young Israel of Oak Park. He attended Yeshiva Beth Yehudah for grade school and Akiva for high school. After high school, he studied in Jerusalem for a gap year, which became two, got a degree in history at Yeshiva University in New York, and then rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University, mostly at its Jerusalem campus.
“Then I did the Jewish communal service thing, ran organizations, etc., and moved into business two years ago,” said Sherizen, now 40.
He made aliyah nine years ago. “I was raised in a family where aliyah was always a strong ideal and even a plan at various stages,” he said. “While it’s really hard being so far away from the family in Michigan, I constantly have a sense we are fulfilling a shared dream.”
Sherizen said he was motivated to start Gabriel by the June 2016 mass shooting at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market and the murder of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando days later.
“My co-founder and I looked at how we could leverage technology to save lives in these sorts of situations,” he said. “We believed that they would only become more frequent and we needed to create a solution that helped people get to safety and first responders to act faster and smarter.”
Unfortunately, mass shootings have become almost commonplace in America. As of Nov. 13, there had been 309 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, including the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
“In events like that, the casualty rate skyrockets with every passing minute. If you can help people instantly get to safety, alert them of the danger, alert authorities and provide emergency services with real-time information on how to deal with the crisis, you can dramatically change the way these things unfold,” Sherizen said.
Gabriel’s crisis platform integrates three critical components:
- a physical device placed on the wall of the building that serves both as a panic button to alert first responders, police and building occupants, and also as a video and audio communication hub if other communication services fail to alert the authorities.
- a smartphone application that enables users to declare an emergency, alert others and continue to share critical, real-time information from the scene.
- an intuitive command and control dashboard that enables real-time crisis management. Available both as a web and smartphone application, the dashboard provides direct video and audio feeds and a dynamic site map.
The easy-to-install starter kits cost $10,000. “Depending on the size and makeup of the community building, it would cost between $20,000-$30,000 to fully outfit a location,” Sherizen said.
Detroit Federation First To Use Technology
Sherizen connected with Federation’s Director of Community-Wide Security Gary Sikorski almost two years ago. “We were in stealth mode and only talking to people who were real experts and we could trust,” Sherizen said. “Gary was both an invaluable resource and a potentially interested customer from the first conversation.”
Professional and lay leaders from Federation decided to work with Gabriel after an extensive evaluation process, including the opportunity to offer significant input into the Gabriel design. A successful 2017 pilot program at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield and Farber Hebrew Day School in Southfield was undertaken.
Based on the success of the test, Federation has pre-ordered 25 units to place in buildings throughout the community, including Jewish schools, senior centers and other communal sites. The units will be produced and installed over the coming months. Detroit will be the first Jewish community to adopt the technology.
Sikorski said that implementation of the Gabriel system is just another step in the ongoing process of assessing and refining Federation’s overall community-wide security approach.
“While the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh is certainly a reminder of the importance of continuous and vigilant security, the reality is that the safety of the community has been a longstanding priority and our focus and strategy have not changed,” Sikorski said.
Deployment of the Gabriel system is being funded by the Federation and participating organizations, as well as through public and private grants. Once the initial units are installed and fully functional, additional organizations within the community will be invited to participate in the program, according to Federation Security Committee Chair Mark Adler.
“We see Gabriel as an important complement to our community-wide security efforts — specifically as a way to use technology to improve response, coordinate with law enforcement and potentially save lives during a crisis.”