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AI Visual Gun Detection Protects Higher Education from Gun Violence

In a recent BestColleges survey, 65% of students interviewed said that school shootings made them concerned for their safety on campus. That is not surprising considering that at least 102 people have been killed in 13 mass shootings at U.S. colleges since the 1960s – and hundreds more have been injured or killed by guns on college campuses.

This alarming trend has been prompting colleges and universities to explore new and innovative ways to combat the threat of gun violence – and AI visual gun detection is at the top of the list. This new technology can be integrated with existing cameras located throughout a campus to provide 24/7 monitoring of weapons. In just a fraction of a second, the system can visually detect a weapon and once verified, can activate a response that could include dispatching police, locking doors, sounding alarms and automating other responses to notify those in harm’s way and save lives.

Why Situational Intelligence Matters

When an active shooter came onto the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August of 2023, it took 90 minutes for the shooter to be arrested after he fatally shot an associate professor on campus. That is a long time of not knowing what is going on or where the shooter is or if they have even been captured yet. As you can read in this blog highlighting texts from students, staff and families during this time, it was sheer terror. This is where Omnilert's AI visual gun detection becomes a game-changer because it can provide real-time situational intelligence to all those impacted for the duration of an event. 

Knowing where the shooter is at any given time is not only valuable for helping first responders resolve the situation as quickly as possible, but it can also help students and staff who are onsite during the event. Below are just a few examples:

  • Having precise information on the shooter’s location can allow security teams to provide safe evacuation routes to those students and staff located in areas away from the shooter.
  • The time that students and staff are sheltering in place, scared and alone, can be significantly reduced. For example, had UNC first responders been give the location of the shooter when they arrived on campus, it may have taken far less than 90 minutes for him to be apprehended. 
  • Ongoing alerts can be sent to the students and staff with location information of the shooter and guidance on what to do. For those in harm’s way, this can prompt them to take extra precaution and safety steps. For those not located near the shooter, they can be less afraid knowing that the gunman is not right outside their door. In so many previous shooting incidents, students and staff in the entire school were in lockdown, all fearing for their lives even though many were not in immediate danger because of their distance from the shooter.


Case Study – Sonoran University

Omnilert Gun Detect now protects hundreds of schools, universities, hospitals, retail and commercial buildings, and other organization facilities and campuses around the country. One customer in the higher education and healthcare space is Sonoran University in Arizona.

The University’s campus spans across 8.5 acres and serves approximately 400 students and 200 staff and faculty members as well as more than 14,000 patients that are treated annually at the University’s onsite public medical center. To keep their staff, students and patients safe, Sonoran University evaluated multiple gun detection technologies and chose Omnilert Gun Detect because it offered the best and most flexible solution on the market. They already had cameras installed on campus and all they had to do was integrate the software with cameras located in strategic locations both inside and outside each building. As explained by Paul Collins, Senior Director of IT at Sonoran University,

“We believe visual gun detection is the missing link in having the best system possible for keeping our students, staff and patients safe while on our campus. Students want to feel safe when they come to campus and by layering this technology on top of our existing security system, we can help alleviate that concern.” 

With the addition of Omnilert Gun Detect, Sonoran University is now better prepared than ever to ensure that lives are not lost during an active shooter event. If a gunman comes passes by any one of the monitored cameras on its campuses, the system can identify the threat in a fraction of a second and then send an alert to a designated group of people at the University, which includes both still images and a short video to provide more context to security personnel and first responders. If the potential active shooter threat is confirmed, they can then initiate a series of actions at the touch of a button that can include calling the police, sending real-time intelligence to first responders that includes information on the number of shooters, what they are wearing, and where they are currently located, locking doors and sending emergency notifications to people on campus.

The key to this pre-planned sequence of events is that it gives emergency response teams advance warning before shots are fired, delivers precise information on the location and a photo and video of the potential shooter. 

The Future of School Safety for Colleges and Universities

With the skyrocketing rate of gun violence in schools across America, AI visual gun detection is becoming an important layer of technology that higher education security teams can use to protect their students and staff. Unlike K-12, colleges and universities are often spread out across large campuses with multiple buildings and dormitories. On any given day, there can be hundreds of students walking between buildings, studying at the library or simply making their way to class. The fact that these campuses already have cameras in place is a major opportunity to increase security with 24/7 monitoring of weapons. After all, what good is video feed if it’s not being viewed in real-time to stop a threat before it can harm someone? Whether a campus has 100 cameras or 10,000, Omnilert Gun Detect can monitor them all simultaneously – and it never gets tired or distracted. This is the future of security in higher education and the sooner schools get on board, the faster they can ensure the safety of their students in the event a gunman ever sets foot on their campus.