How to Help Clients Pick Proper Active Shooter Technology

Security pros can offer valuable assistance in helping clients choose active shooter solutions.

In order for organizations to protect both their people and privacy, their IT and security teams must work closely together when selecting security solutions.

With so many security devices connected to the Internet, it’s vital that these devices are secure and cannot be hacked into and exploited. More than ever organizations are putting a higher priority on being adequately prepared for the potential or actual threats of violence in the workplace.

To react and respond to any aggressive, life-threatening situations, end-user businesses, schools and organizations must be proactive in developing and implementing formal, written workplace violence policies and procedures with emergency preparedness plans that consist of effective training, protocols and technology elements.

Many organizations are now implementing active shooter response protocols as a key component of their emergency preparedness plans. However, as recent events have played out, these plans alone have not proven to be foolproof.

There have been 17 shooting incidences this year from January through March in educational facilities alone in which someone was wounded or killed.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.

According to the DHS, most incidents occur at locations in which the shooters find little obstruction to carrying out their attack. And, the premeditated locations generally offer limited security measures to protect students, employees and the public.

Organizations Look to Enable Quick, Effective Crisis Response

In a massive move toward providing even safer surroundings, many businesses and campuses have camera– and sensor-based digital security systems with command centers being monitored by staff and personnel in the organization.

While these methods provide adequate support in documenting an active shooter, they may deliver limited and mixed results in the timely cessation of an event.

If an active shooter is on a campus or in a building, every second that individual is not detained can impact the severity of the incident. The quicker the active shooter’s presence is made known, and the building’s occupants can be notified, the better the execution of a well-documented and rehearsed response plan can begin — and lives can be saved.

Security technology like an active shooter detection system can bridge and reduce the clock-ticking gap between what could be a few minutes to only a few seconds in notifying employees and authorities about the situation.

When determining the best active shooter detection system to deploy and integrate into an overall security program, the precision of the system is the most important factor.

An effective solution is one that has an absolute 100% detection rate for shots with zero false alerts. The most effective systems will employ multimode gunshot detection to achieve the level of accuracy needed and will enable the automation necessary for an efficient resolution to the active shooter situation.

Other critical aspects to consider when evaluating active shooter detection technologies include the detection and false alarm rate, automation functionality and integration capability.

Eliminating the human element in these situations to intervene and to verify a shot saves time and confusion during an active shooter event, when stress is high and every second counts.

Equally important to consider are the strict third-party testing and certifications needed that must adhere to sanctioned government guidelines. The DHS and the U.K. Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure have stringent criteria for being approved for the marketplace. Organizations should also ask for references and case studies in which the technology has been tested and deployed.

Cybersecurity Concerns, System Integrations to Consider

Furthermore, cybersecurity vulnerability of an active shooter detection system is a real threat in itself by which an organization must ensure that their data is secure once the system is up and running.

When evaluating partners, inquire if the system requires a connection to the network and what data is being sent over that network. Comprehensive active shooter detection systems will be those that support integrations with other security systems.

The system should have certified and supported integrations and work with the existing technologies already in place. Recommended integrations that shot detection alarms should automate include:

  • VMS integration for surveillance video tracking of the shooter in real-time
  • mass notification emergency communications to alert building occupants and local law enforcement of the threat
  • access control integration to limit where the shooter can move through the building

Once the proper active shooter detection system has been selected, with the integration options identified, security integrators can be there to expertly install, service, monitor and support the end user’s solution.

By providing active shooter detection services to customers, integrators are able to better address the ever-changing security challenges organizations face, including emergency response plans when it comes to these incidents.

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About the Author


Rick Walker is Senior Product Manager for Stanley Security.

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