This week, I was honored to sit on a panel hosted by ZeroNow, an organization dedicated to furthering safety and preventing harmful events in our schools, to discuss different technology approaches to preventing the growing problem of campus gun violence. Living in the US, we are all aware of this escalating problem, but it’s of particular importance to Omnilert, as planning for active shooters generally ranks as the number 1 or 2 concern for our customers.
Since our company has been a leader and pioneer in Emergency Mass Notification Systems since 2004 with over 2,500 customers who trust us to keep their people safe, we have continuously invested in preventative technology. Most recently, Omnilert Gun Detect, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), reliably and rapidly recognizes firearms and immediately triggers multi-channel communication alerts and automated pre-defined safety protocols. In just a few seconds, it provides security personnel with the mission-critical information they need to prevent a disaster and to save lives.
The panel started off with a survey to the audience of several hundred attendees, including campus safety leaders from K-12, Higher Education, and Healthcare, asking what technology they currently used to mitigate the threat of gun violence. Among the choices were barrier detection (the “metal detectors” we walk through at TSA security checkpoints), audible detection (which listen for and triangulate gunshots to help speed effective response), and visual detection (using gun detection cameras with active monitoring whether human or AI).
The results were quite telling: 50% of the audience answered “none.” That is a remarkable statistic given the massive economic cost associated with gun violence and the potential to make such a positive impact through the deployment of this technology. At the same time, it indicates that we are at the early stages of adoption with a lack of awareness of what is available. Nonetheless, it’s clear that there is increasing interest by campus safety, physical security, and healthcare leadership to make a positive impact to enhance people’s safety, as well as for organizations and leadership to demonstrate thoughtful research and understanding of the current public safety technologies, such as Gun Detection Artificial Intelligence, available to address and prevent gun violence in America.
The panelists discussed this issue for a while and (it may be the subject of a future blog post) we moved onto a conversation about the experiences of one of them when implementing safety systems in his own facilities. What became clear was that each of these technologies has a complementary role, therefore organizations can layer them together to create successive layers of defense!!! This new collaboration of technologies within various organizations is exactly what is needed to boost the implementation of safety solutions and to provide the tools needed in our fight against gun violence in America. Collaboration, implementation, preparation, and prevention are key. The more security experts and people who care about people's safety in America, the faster we'll see a severe decrease in gun violence and harm.
To give some concrete examples, barrier detection is highly effective for the identification of concealed weapons, but typically needs to be staffed and the expensive units can really only be used in “pinch points,” such as the entry points to secure zones. Visual detection has the advantage of leveraging existing camera systems dispersed over a wide area and is highly affordable with AI monitoring, yet can only detect visible firearms. Gunshot detection can cover large areas and provide information to dispatch first responders, but clearly operates after the fact. Combining these techniques allows an organization to create a broad area of coverage targeted to their particular strengths.
You can read more about a comparison of these systems in our previous blog post.
Even more critically, these technologies must integrate with other systems to construct the most effective solution. The incredible advantage of early detection is squandered if it is not combined with fast and reliable follow-through. We strongly believe that Omnilert Gun Detect is an incredible extension to our Emergency Mass Notification System, and a natural partner to gun detection camera systems, which are a prerequisite to making the system work. This combination can mean the amount of time from detection to mass communications can be reduced to a mere few seconds.
The system takes on true superpowers, and arms security experts and first responders with the ability to save lives! In an instant, security receives the factual data they urgently need (exact location and photos of the person holding the gun) to make mission-critical decisions, thereby thwarting a people safety catastrophe, saving lives, and preventing harm. Gun Detect also integrates easily with other emergency mass notification systems, so that customers have a truly flexible choice.
This speaks to the vital role vendors must play to create rich solutions that not only function well independently but as part of a multi-vendor system in the customer’s environment. It is so exciting to see leaders like Genetec and Axis come together with the help of alliances like ZeroNow to commit to driving the dialog and interoperability. We look forward to seeing continued advances and enabling the integration to truly save lives.