Articles by Christian Connors
The benefits of some physical security systems have an obvious return on investment, such as surveillance cameras trained on retail cashiers and access systems that keep unauthorised persons from entering protected areas. There are others that may only show a return once a negative event has occurred, and some may argue that gunshot detection falls into this category, however there are many reasons to see the value in this technology. Below are a few reasons why you should look at gunshot detection and some best practices for evaluating this type of technology. Reduced casualties = reduced costs Most of gunshot detection’s value will be measured on the system’s ability to reduce response time to a shooting incident. Statistics have shown that an average of one death occurs every 5-15 seconds during an active shooter incident. One question to ask gunshot detection manufacturers is how quickly their system alerts. Applying these statistics against alerting speed can help calculate a potential reduction in casualties to employees.Mitigating casualties can also reduce subsequent benefit costs for those psychologically traumatised by the incident Mitigating casualties can also reduce subsequent benefit costs including paid sick leave, death benefits, and mental health care for those psychologically traumatised by the incident. To put this into real-world context, a major retail brand experienced a workplace shooting that tragically resulted in loss of lives and multiple casualties. The corporation spent more than $40M in costs associated with the shooting. It was after this incident that the company decided to install gunshot detection, because although they had looked at it previously, they finally made the connection to the return on investment: Reduced response time will decrease (and hopefully eliminate) casualties, which will save lives and millions of dollars if a future incident were to occur at one of their sites. Meeting OSHA requirements OSHA’s General Duty Clause states that employers must provide a workplace free of “recognised hazards” that are likely to cause death or serious injury. Courts have interpreted this to mean that employers have a legal obligation to abate the active shooter hazard when there is a feasible method available to do so. Mark Terry, Director of Global Enterprise Security for Rackspace in San Antonio, sees gunshot detection as a life safety necessity that also fulfils the corporation’s Duty of Care. He told me that adding gunshot detection is not only a game changer for active shooter response, it fulfils their Duty of Care and brings peace of mind that his company has done everything they can to protect their people. Lawsuits charging security negligence have become commonplace after shootings Reduce litigation risk with gunshot detection – but choose wisely Lawsuits charging security negligence have become commonplace after shootings, naming a “lack of gunshot detection devices” as a source of culpability, such as the $800M lawsuit victims brought against MGM after the Route 91 concert shooting in October 2017. What is important to realise, however, is that not all gunshot detection systems are created equal, so there are a number of performance characteristics to consider. For example, acoustic-only systems have a higher likelihood of false alerting to loud noises, especially indoors, as do those that search a library of gunshot audio files before reporting shots.Dual mode systems that require both acoustic and infrared detection in order to report are far more accurate Dual mode systems that require both acoustic and infrared detection in order to report are far more accurate. Tedd Steele, Senior Network Architect at Charleston International Airport, told Airport Improvement Magazine that the system they installed “can determine gunshots with a high degree of accuracy thanks to the dual mode sensors. It knows the difference between loud bangs and a gunshot.” When looking at wireless gunshot detection systems, end users should ask about sensor uptime, self-testing features, battery life and encrypted communications. Regulations and standards Currently, there are no standards or regulations to follow in order to market a technology as gunshot detection. A video camera is typical in that you can expect that the product will capture video. There are different feature sets like facial recognition and analytics that set different systems apart on the backend, but first, cameras must capture a moving image. When you apply this same analogy to gunshot detection, the waters are a bit muddier because the science of isolating gunshots while also filtering out false alerts is much more complex than simply detecting and reporting a loud bang.The NFPA has also issued guidelines for the use of gunshot detection Many manufacturers of aggression detection systems now claim ‘gunshot detection’ as a feature set, and there are smoke detectors and cameras now marketing this claim, but these devices are not on the same level playing field as genuine gunshot detection systems. In the absence of regulations and standards, consumers should look to authorities that have evaluated systems such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Centre for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure in the U.K., The NFPA has also issued guidelines for the use of gunshot detection as a part of their principal role in creating life safety codes for buildings. Testing and References If you place a number of gunshot detection systems side by side in a shooting range, they all will likely report a shot, but this is not a reasonable test because a range is a controlled environment. What happens in a real world environment? Does the system need to be calibrated to its environment? What happens in the presence of fire alarms and strobes going off in a live incident? Seeing a system respond to live fire is important in the evaluation process, but it is not the only marker of overall system capability. Consumers will want to ask manufactures questions like how many systems have been deployed in customer environments and for how long, and let their customers tell you their detection and false alert rates have been. Enterprise consumers will want to look closely at network and cybersecurity features and look closely for any potential security risks. Also ask for references from customers in your industry so you can see how and where they are using gunshot detection to meet challenges that might be unique to your type of workplace, school, or public venue. Seeing a system respond to live fire is important in the evaluation process Overall, it is extremely important for organisations to be able to declare that they have done everything in their power to properly prepare for and respond to active shooters. Combining an effective gunshot detection system with video, access control and mass notification will not only improve your ability to effectively respond to a shooting incident, it raises your security posture and confidence that you have done everything you can to protect your people from modern day threats. It also puts these security systems to better use by delivering real-time, additional situational awareness during a shooting incident. And this will be especially true when you have done your due diligence before selecting a gunshot detection system.
Johnson Controls announces that its American Dynamics victor Video Management Software now integrates with the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System from Shooter Detection Systems, providing users with an automated solution to react in real-time to shots fired in a facility. By reducing the margin of human error, the solution helps to eliminate costly false alerts while enhancing the overall security of any school, business, or public venue building. “We are excited to offer this integrated solution to our customers who are investing in technology to address the active shooter threat,” said Christian Connors, chief executive officer of Shooter Detection Systems. “By combining our indoor gunshot detection system with a robust video management system like victor, customers gain immediate, automated insights the second a shot is fired, providing exceptional situational awareness when every second counts.” Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System Active shooter incidents have been recognised by the nation’s top 500 enterprise security executives surveyed as a top security threat facing their enterprise. Based on military gunshot detection technology and SAFETY Act Certified by the Department of Homeland Security, the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System combines an acoustic gunshot identification software with infrared gunfire flash detection to quickly identify gunshot incidents. When combined with the powerful victor video management software monitoring features, the system provides the ability for instant shot location information, lock down procedures, live and recorded video from cameras in the incident related areas. The integration provides immediate notification to first responders through victor’s event action and integration notification platform, and simultaneously alerts designated monitoring facilities around the globe. C•CURE 9000 These capabilities are also available through the integration of Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System and the C•CURE 9000 security and event management system from Software House. “This integration fully aligns with our vision to add mission critical solutions to our portfolio of integrations through our Connected Partner Program, where third-party technology partners have the opportunity to integrate into our security solutions,” said Kristy Dunchak, director, Building Technologies & Solutions, Johnson Controls.
Software House and Shooter Detection Systems integrate to provide critical security against the active shooter Tyco Security Products announces that Software House C•CURE 9000, the access-control powerhouse, now integrates with Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System by Shooter Detection Systems, the world leader in gunshot detection technology. The nation’s top 500 enterprise security executives surveyed named the Active Shooter as this year’s top security threat facing their enterprise. This highly anticipated integration complements Tyco Security Product’s offerings with an industry-leading solution to accurately detect gunshots and provide precise location information to first responders and security professionals within a second of the first shot, without the need for human interpretation. Instant shot location In an active shooter event where every second counts, the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System combines an acoustic gunshot identification software with infrared camera gunfire flash detection. When combined with powerful C•CURE 9000 event management and access monitoring features, the system provides the ability for instant shot location information, lock down procedures, live and recorded video from cameras in the incident related areas, and provides immediate notification to first responders through C•CURE 9000’s event action and integrated notification platforms while alerting monitoring facilities around the globe. “We are pleased to be able to add this mission critical solution to the portfolio of integrations coming through Tyco Security Product’s Connected Partner Program. This integration fully aligns with our vision to offer our customers best-in-class technologies in security products,” stated Scott McNulty, Senior Product Manager, TSP Connected Partner Program. Reduction of human error margin “SDS is proud to add C•CURE 9000 to our growing library of technology integrations,” said Shooter Detection Systems’ CEO Christian Connors. “By combining our indoor gunshot detection system with access control, customers can potentially manage where the shooter can move by locking down a lobby, hallway, or other access point, and use the same logic to safely evacuate employees away from the shooter.” The powerful combination of C•CURE 9000 and Guardian gunshot detection reduces the margins of human error, ensuring that there are no costly false alerts while enhancing the overall security of any school, business or public venue building.
The potential is huge for vendors in the security and technology industries that have gun detection-related services & products Gunshot detection systems are a fast growing trend that helps police and security guards to protect the public, capture criminals and collect forensic evidence for investigations. Gunshot detectors use digital microphones installed on (or in) buildings or along streets that listen for evidence of gunshots, provide near instantaneous notification, triangulate the location of shooters and direction of a shot, detect the type of gun and ultimately aid in catching fleeing suspects and solving crimes. Gunshot detection is just one technology playing a role in the larger trend by city agencies to improve core city services. Cities are turning what are referred to as “smart city” solutions – new, innovative technologies that improve and maintain a high quality of life and “liveability” for citizens. Another top technology trend in public safety and security is body worn cameras which require a number of innovative systems and services for the data that is collected. The overall smart city marketplace that includes both gunshot detection systems body worn cameras is experiencing rapid growth worldwide and is predicted to grow from $8.1 billion globally in 2010 to $39.5 billion in 2016. Expansion of use Gunshot detection technology is moving into hundreds of cities across the U.S., such as Fresno, CA, that recently started a pilot programme and Peoria, IL, that is ready to expand its current system. Onvia’s Project Center provides additional insight into recent bids and RFPs issued by agencies requesting gunshot detection systems. City of San Antonio in Texas Issued a bid in April 2015 for the implementation, management and operation of a gunshot detection technology system (GDTS) to be used by the police department. The bid says the GDTS will be a law enforcement tool to improve officer response time to incidents involving illegal gunfire within the detection area. The city intends to develop two pilot programmes for two separate areas within San Antonio in FY 2016. City of Lowell in Massachusetts Issued a bid in July 2015 for a vendor to install a gunshot detection and location system. This proposal is intended to acquire a system that will assist the police department to accurately detect/locate the source of the gunfire in an urban environment. The dominant outdoor gunshot detection solution used by police in cities is the ShotSpotter system by SST, Inc., which is installed in 90 U.S. cities. News around gunshot detection and ShotSpotter has generally been positive, but the company had some early challenges around generating too many “false alerts” that required extra police time to investigate. In response, the company introduced a “final review/check” feature that incorporates a team of analysts available 24/7 to quickly weed out false alarms initially flagged by the system. Recent news seems to point to the overall effectiveness of their improved solution. The smart city marketplace that includes gunshot detection systems and body worn cameras is predicted to grow from $8.1 billion globally in 2010 to $39.5 billion in 2016 Camden, NJ In Camden, NJ, police have found that using this system reduced gun incidents by 49%. According to ShotSpotter’s own tracking methodology, in the first half of 2014 gun incidents were reduced across 31 cities with this solution by an annual rate of 20.6%. SST retains status as a leader in the industry New York City in New York Awarded SST, Inc. $1.5 million in October 2014 to provide a gunshot detection and location system to the police department. The proposed system will use specially placed sensors to pinpoint the precise location of gunfire within specified coverage areas. In 2009, the NYPD tested a system from Safety Dynamics, but found that the technology yielded too many false alarms. In March 2015, the City announced the roll out of this pilot program with ShotSpotter; in real-time, ShotSpotter’s analysts will determine whether the noises were gunshots or something else like backfiring cars or slamming doors. “This new gunshot detection system is going to do a world of good in going after the bad guys,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. City of East Palo Alto in California Awarded SST, Inc. $29,850 in April 2015 for maintenance and support services for a citywide gunshot detection and location system. District of Columbia Awarded SST, Inc. $499,588 in May 2015 a one-year contract starting in October 2015 for maintenance and support of gunshot detection services. One detractor to gunshot detection systems is the price. Onvia’s database suggests the average purchase order amount for all cities is $169,400 and the single largest buyer has been Washington D.C. ($3.4 million). This can be a hefty price tag for many smaller municipalities. Beyond the streets "This new gunshot detection system is going to do a world of good in going after the bad guys", says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio While city-wide installations have drawn the most focus of this new technology, there are many other applications for public and private security use – entities whose budgets are either not as limited by price or they have been provided federal or private funds to implement the detection systems. For instance, Raytheon’s Boomerang military system was adapted for domestic uses in protecting U.S. power plants from terrorist attacks. Additionally, schools have been an extremely vulnerable place for deadly shootings and this currently under-served market will likely be a primary target for vendors in the next few years. School districts are laser focused on student safety and are willing to invest funds to achieve the goal of creating a truly safe learning environment for students. One hesitation to implementing the technology, particularly on campuses, is privacy. But the technology may be sophisticated enough that this won’t be a deterrent: In June 2015, Newark Memorial High School in California announced it will be the nation's first high school to install gunfire detection technology: ShotSpotter's SecureCampus system will alert police, the principal and the superintendent, informing them exactly where gunshots were fired. Police Commander Michael Carroll says, "It won't have false alarms because it can distinguish between a gunshot and a firecracker or a door slamming. And it doesn't record conversations because they aren't loud enough to trigger a recording." In Massachusetts, a recent proposal by Senator Michael Rush would require all new schools to install the gunshot detection system provided by locally-based Shooter Detection Systems, which has already donated the system to one local elementary school. The company, founded in 2013, spent a year commercialising shooter detection systems originally meant for the military. In a 2014 interview, CEO Christian Connors said the company's shooter detection system would be implemented in schools across the country, as well as airports and shopping malls. Connors said, "The goal is to reduce lives lost in active shooter incidents and immediately alert people inside the building and outside the building. It's basically a smoke alarm for gunfire." The dominant outdoor gunshot detection solution used by police in cities is the ShotSpotter system by SST, Inc., which is installed in 90 U.S. cities In Reynoldsburg, Ohio, another locally-based firm is piloting Batelle’s $75,000 SiteGuard Active Shooter Response system for free in one of Reynoldsburg’s high schools. The innovative system sensors will work with other security technology. For example, if a shooter fires in the school lobby, the sensors there would register that shot, alert 911 and begin to map the shooter’s movements. If the shooter moves down a hallway, fires, then goes upstairs and fires again, the sensors can inform the police of the shooter’s movements and location and help provide the quickest, safest and most efficient response. The system can be tied into the school’s cameras and provide first responders with a video feed of the shooter and can also lock down the school, protecting students and isolating the shooter. Joe Begeny, a school board member, said that, especially with all of the school shootings that have happened since Columbine, a district can never be too careful. “It’s about student safety,” he said. “You hope that nothing bad happens, that there is never a situation of an active shooter in a building, but you want to be prepared if it does.” A smarter, safer future Smart cities have raised the bar by investing in gunshot detection. In San Jose, CA city leaders hope that their new pilot program provided by locally-based anyCOMM will give them “smart city” status. They want to give residents confidence that the public safety resources are sufficient to deal with any threats or problems. anyCOMM reached out to city decision makers to share its technology that might help improve city operations and as a result, the agency will install nodes that can sense the blast of a gunshot, among other possible dangers. Teri Kilgore, assistant to the San Jose City Manager said, that they took an opportunity to look to the future and see what technologies are emerging and how those technologies can help complement city services: “We’re definitely interested in becoming a smart city.” The potential is huge for vendors in the security and technology industries that have gun detection-related services & products. Vendors should begin outreach to city agencies, school districts and security firms to educate them on the necessity for services, products and systems designed to improve public safety, help save innocent lives and prosecute criminals. Due to the number of high profile gunshot incidents in city streets, the security threat of terrorism and the increased rate of mass shootings, an uptick in contracting opportunities appears imminent. Onvia recommends vendors to keep a close eye on upcoming public safety projects and agency fiscal budgets & capital improvement plans. Staying alert to upcoming opportunities will give contractors and subcontractors a chance to win more government business and do their part to help police and security firms create an overall safer environment.