Workplace violence has been on the rise in mental health facilities, schools, and detention centres across the country. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year.” As such, security directors are looking for technologies to help identify and mitigate these incidents.

  •  Increasing use of vocal aggression detection technology
  •  Shift from video surveillance to audio analytics
  •  Application in hospitals and schools

Recognizing workplace violence

Traditionally, security personnel have relied on video-only solutions, but security technologies continue to shift and adapt to a new standard of sight and sound for an effective solution. Deploying audio analytics with security technologies gives security staff a means to better recognise potential incidents. Specifically, vocal aggression detection technology is gaining traction in security system installations as it offers staff better situational awareness, additional information about an event in progress, and faster opportunities for intervention. 

Reducing workplace violence requires a cohesive approach among company leadership with a plan implemented in a strategic manner. Management must first understand the risks specific to their employees and their workplace and invest in a solution that will protect both. OSHA states, “In most workplaces where risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimised if employers take appropriate precautions.” The most effective prevention system is one that is capable of recognising, analysing, and addressing potential incidents quickly and effectively.

Vocal aggression detection technology
is gaining traction in security system
installations as it offers staff 
better situational awareness

Once a facility has the proper equipment, it becomes a matter of creating an action plan to make use of the information the technology provides. A sophisticated system can detect certain events and alert the proper personnel, but if that same personnel does not follow standard protocols once that alert is received, the effectiveness of the security system, and as a corollary, workplace safety, is reduced.

Integrating video and audio surveillance

As previously mentioned, security crews have primarily relied on video surveillance as a means of monitoring an environment or incident. However, this reactive style of observation has proven to insufficient when it comes to reducing incidents, as video only security systems mainly provide a recording of an event to be examined after the event has occurred.

Audio analytics use in hospitals and healthcare facilities
This situation can also transpire in hospitals and school campuses, such as a nurse walking with their patient

Facilities including medical centres, schools, and detention centres continue to shift towards more proactive standard operating procedures to further increase their workplace safety. Out of the ordinary noises is often one of the earliest indicators for individuals that something is wrong or that the probability of a security incident is increasing. With knowledge of the fact that sound plays a critical role in early risk identification; it is a recommended best practice that security personnel integrate both video and audio technologies in their security systems.

Assessing situations in real time

Technologies such as audio analytics not only offer an additional layer of evidence for responding to incidents, but also allow security personnel to assess the tone of a situation in real time and take immediate action before circumstances deteriorate. Similar to how the human ear processes audio, sound detection software analyses acoustic events through advanced algorithms and classifies them into predetermined categories.

Aggression detectors are capable
of accurately recognising stress
and duress in a person’s voice

Aggression detectors are capable of accurately recognising stress and duress in a person’s voice, automatically and objectively detecting the presence of aggression, anger, or fear, and warn staff by a visual alert or an audible alarm. For example, consider a corrections officer escorting a detainee through a detention centre and an argument ensues. An audio analytic program equipped with aggression detecting software could quickly identify the raised level of stress in either individual’s voice and immediately flag the area for other officers.

Audio technology in security systems

This situation can also transpire in hospitals and school campuses such as faculty escorting a student or visitor through the grounds or a nurse walking with their patient. Staff being warned at an early stage gives them improved situational awareness, opportunities for additional support, and a significantly increased chance of de-escalating the incident. Having the ability to document occurrences like these in reports makes the problem of workplace aggression more measurable. Another major benefit of aggression detection and audio analytics solutions comes from the fact that the technology maintains employees’ right to privacy. Sound detectors do not listen for speech, language, or key words, but instead, analyse frequencies, volume level, time duration, and other acoustic patterns.

The use of audio technology in security systems has become a best practice to reduce incidence of violence. Addressing workplace violence requires a comprehensive approach taking into consideration the many variables of each workplace. This is especially true when addressing the myriad of threats facing those in corrections, mental health, and education facilities. Fortunately, as technologies continue to evolve and security professionals strive for better and more advanced ways of keeping people free from harm, security professionals have new tools to better address potential threats.

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