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OmnilertJun 15, 2023 1:40:19 PM6 min read

Securing Exteriors and Soft Targets with Visual Gun Detection Technology

k12-70pctAccording to the K-12 School Shooting Database, 70% of school shootings occur outside of the building, with the majority in a parking lot or the front of the school building. And CNN has discussed that mass shooters are increasingly attacking ‘soft targets’ such as supermarkets, churches, movie theaters, and other places that traditionally have large exterior areas but minimal security.  We’re not even halfway through 2023 and the US has already recorded nearly 300 mass shootings.  

Looking back at many of these tragedies, it’s clear that we need to get better not only with protecting buildings, but also the perimeters where the active shooter is often first spotted in full view with a weapon in their hands. We’ve seen this repeatedly in events such as the Sandy Hook, Uvalde and Nashville school shootings as well as the Tops supermarket and Allen, Texas mall tragedies.

There is a critical need for solutions, new layers of protection, that can ‘harden’ these exterior spaces to protect people from attacks in the future. And fortunately, AI-powered visual gun detection is emerging as an effective technology turning these soft target locations into protected spaces.

Using Existing Cameras

The reality is that until now, there has not been an easy or cost-effective way to secure and monitor these exterior areas. The two most common methods have been costly manual patrols by security guards that can only cover a small portion of space at a time and camera surveillance is not monitored live and only used after an incident for forensics. Traditionally, cameras are not a preventative tool. This is where AI-powered visual gun detection shines because it can be used with existing cameras already in place – requiring minimal investment while achieving a desperately needed layer of protection.

exterior-cameras-buildingToday, there are 70+ million security cameras in the U.S. that can be transformed by adding an AI platform that can identify active shooters and other acts of gun violence as soon as a gun is drawn. The use of this technology can turn these cameras into a 24/7 always-on monitoring system that can detect a brandished weapon in seconds and initiate an automated response designed to save lives.

Monitors Outside Perimeters

In the Tops supermarket shooting in Buffalo, the gunman walked through the parking lot towards the building with the gun in full view. If an exterior camera had been monitored with an AI visual gun detection platform, it could have initiated a full-scale response before a shot was fired and long before the shooter even entered the building. This could have included locking doors, calling police, and alerting patrons to the situation so they could take cover.

To put this in perspective, this is how that scenario could have played out:

  • The gunman is walking across the parking lot with the gun in full view.
  • The AI visual gun detection platform recognizes a weapon instantly from an outside camera and sends an alert with video and photos to the designated human in the loop to verify the alerts. This could be an outside professional monitoring service or onsite/offsite security staff.
  • Once the alert is verified by the human in the loop, they press a button on the alert that automatically initiates a pre-scripted response. This whole process takes only seconds and the actions taken as part of the response are pre-planned and tailored to that location. In the case of Tops, if locking doors was part of their response plan, there would have been an opportunity to notify police, secure the building before the shooter had a chance to enter, and warn patrons on where to go or what to do.

Automatically Calls for Help

According to, the Secret Service says it takes a minute for a civilian in an active shooter incident to call the police – however, it takes four minutes for a civilian to realize there is an active shooter incident and that they need to call the police. Considering that most of these incidents are over in less than five minutes, this type of response is not effective. However, when AI-powered visual gun detection is employed, there is no hesitancy. Once a threat is verified, the police or onsite security teams are notified instantly through the system.

Omnilert Gun Detect Platform

With active shooting incidents and gun violence on the rise, AI-powered visual gun detection is the only technology that can add a layer of protection for exteriors and soft targets. In addition, Omnilert Gun Detect is the only solution that features a unique combination of early gun detection, human verification, mass communication, and an automated response. 

If you are interested in learning more about AI gun detection and our visual active shooter solution contact us now or check out these resources: