Why Gunshot Detection Systems Are Becoming More Affordable

The IoT and Cloud platforms combined with more cost-effective AI engines are paving the way for a new generation of indoor gunshot detection.

Statistically, the probability of an active shooter event occurring at any given location is low. But being prepared for such a horrific event requires a large amount of resources — especially for the commercial venues that are often the site of the attack.

And although somewhat rare, the fear persists. A 2019 survey by Securitas asked top security decision makers representing a wide range of workplaces , including schools, offices, retail spaces, places of worship, manufacturing facilities and utilities, which physical security threat concerned them the most. Their answer? An active shooter situation.

As today’s security dealers emphasize the value of technologies like video surveillance, access control, security screening, emergency communication systems and visitor management, they are increasingly including information about how these solutions can perform in an active shooter scenario to help mitigate risk and reduce harm.

Historically, conversations regarding indoor gunfire detection solutions have been reserved for highly funded customers. Since their inception, gunfire detectors have been considered an expensive and a somewhat unattainable add-on to more traditional security systems. But thankfully, the market is changing, paving the way for security dealers to sell as many gunfire detectors as they do smoke detectors.

With converging market forces and increasing security concerns over mass shootings, these systems are quickly becoming a vital must-have in a dealers’ product portfolio.

Next Gen Gunshot Detection

The historically high price for such systems is multifaceted. For effective coverage, many detectors must be deployed throughout a property, which can be costly. Plus, the labor-intensive monitoring and alert notification services that support these systems are expensive.

Unlike many security technologies whose cost can be justified for the many day-to-day use cases in which they deliver value (like surveillance), most gunshot detection systems will never, hopefully, need to alarm and notify. This makes budgeting for their high price even harder to justify.

Now, the proliferation of the IoT and Cloud platforms, combined with smarter, faster and more affordable AI engines, is paving the way for a new generation of indoor gunshot detection. This next generation of gunshot detection solutions redefine the pricing of system hardware and sensors, software, installation costs and monitoring services.

Why the sudden shift in pricing? This new wave of detectors, as small as the smallest of smoke detectors, can be sold for hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars each. For starters, gunshot detection systems are now Cloud-based. By leveraging the Cloud to process and analyze detected sounds, hardware costs are dramatically reduced.

The Cloud facilitates robust mobile and web-based management software and installation tools, offering all the advantages of a SaaS model with minimal upfront costs and reasonable annual service fees.

This also lends itself to decreased installation costs; simplified network requirements and “plug and play” connectivity of IoT sensor devices can be programmed and mapped from a phone or browser. Self-learning AI, powered by Cloud servers, continually improves the accuracy of gunfire analysis, reducing or eliminating the need for human involvement for monitoring and throughout the alert notification sequence.

This evolution in market technologies is allowing commercial venues to purchase gunfire detection systems with the same ease as adding smoke detectors. Given their ability to help save lives, with only a small incremental increase in security budgeting, gunfire detectors will soon be an indispensable element of every active shooter technology plan.

John Anderson is Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Melbourne, Fla.-based Safe Zone Technologies.

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