Security Professionals: Why Active Shooter Technology is the Talk of the Security Industry

By John Krumme, CPP

Active shooter technology, developed over the past few years, has become a valuable tool that many security professionals are giving more consideration to, due to the recent tragedies that we see in our society on a regular basis. Referred to as gunshot analytics, this emergency technology often includes integrations between different security systems to quickly alert and protect people in an active shooter or armed robbery situation.

Picture this: someone walks into an office building with a firearm. Upon discharge of a weapon, the active shooter software’s sound detector picks up that incident and a map of the facility pops up on each associates’ monitor, while simultaneously alerting central station, for an immediate police dispatch. The monitor shows what part of the building the shooter occupies. As the person moves throughout the building and fires more shots, the map updates in real time. The system alerts people of the danger, while giving them instant updates to choose the safest course of action. Depending on their location in relation to the gunman, this might mean hiding or fleeing altogether.

What’s interesting about this technology is that it can be linked to other systems, such as an access control system, to further ensure optimal safety. The moment the weapon is discharged, a building can go into automatic lockdown mode either by zone, floor or include the entire building. This response requires no human intervention.

Discreet in appearance, the technology can work in a variety of vertical markets, including providing full coverage for a large office complex to helping to protect a defined high-risk area such as a hospital emergency room or a high-end retail store.

In a situation with an armed robber, the setup might look a little different. If someone enters the store and discharges a weapon, the software can automatically alert a security operations center or central station. The home office can alert all other stores in the chain of the potential danger, and contact police directly. The gunshot alert can also trigger video cameras, making it possible for a central station to see what is happening immediately.

When determining what active shooter technology is the right choice, an end user will have to evaluate several factors, including risk management, return on investment and budget. It comes down to whether or not an end user is willing to spend the money to implement the software and if they don’t, how vulnerable that leaves them. The investment can depend on how many detectors are needed and whether the system includes software mapping capabilities.

It’s important that security, facilities, and IT directors become familiar with active shooter technology to fully understand how it can be deployed and benefit their company, employees and assets. Knowledge is the first step in preventing a tragedy.