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Safe Zone News

A Rise in Firearms: How the Industry Can Help Prepare for the ‘New Normal’

By Safe Zone News

Healthcare professionals around the world are beginning to identify a range of COVID-19 related mental health issues that are certain to create new challenges for society. As reported on SecurityInformed.com, people are in serious distress about the pandemic itself, because of the devastating second and third-order effects of record unemployment and the overall negative economic impact. Safety and security professionals must be prepared to meet the challenges of a ‘new normal’.

The new normal is not the old normal. Society is emerging from a prolonged period of imposed self-isolation. This has been an incredibly stressful time, and the behavioral stresses created as a result remain to be seen. Security professionals everywhere need to be prepared to meet the challenges of a post-COVID shutdown world.

Mental Health And COVID-19

A variety of mental health issues relate directly to people who have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as those not infected but still forced into sheltered quarantine.

Recent research published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal noted that other Coronaviruses in the past have passed into the central nervous systems of patients, calling for more research to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the human brain and nervous system. The journal specifically called for better monitoring of mental health as part of a coordinated response to the pandemic.

As a result of the pandemic quarantine closures, estimates are that more than 40 million people have lost their jobs in this country. We don’t know when these jobs will be coming back, or if they even will. The depressed economy is taking an unprecedented toll. Unemployment leads to desperation and desperate people often make poor choices. Historically, these situations have resulted in an increase in violence, including armed robberies, suicides and active shootings.

Spikes In Firearms

The documented pandemic spike in firearm sales adds to the concern. NBC News recently reported that gun sales and federal background checks rose to an all-time high in March. In fact, the FBI conducted 3.7 million background checks in March, the highest total since the national instant check system for buyers was launched in 1998 and 1.1 million higher than the number conducted in March 2019.

The combination of rapidly increasing gun sales and the emergence of COVID-related mental health concerns means that schools, houses of worship, malls, movies theaters, and owners of every other venue where people gather must take all available steps to enhance the safety and security of their spaces – especially as these venues begin to reopen after prolonged closures.

This year, the Gun Violence Archive has recorded over 360 mass shootings (shootings with at least 4 victims besides the shooter). In 2019, at the end of August, there had been 283 mass shootings. This year is well on track to eclipse previous years and the numbers continue to grow month over month.

Police Response Systems

The current climate of what is and isn’t worth an in-person response may also be emboldening potential shooters. In March, Detroit was forced to quarantine 152 police officers after 5 positive tests. In the same month, more than 690 officers tested positive across the country leading to similar quarantine responses. As numbers nationwide continue to grow, it is likely that this is an occurrence that will be repeated in many cities. Staying protected is a top priority, but social distancing requirements complicate the simple act of gathering information from a scene. The ability to cut through the chaos with clear and accurate information while maintaining responder safety has never been more needed.

Progress towards a vaccine only complicates the issue. According to a study published by Kaiser Family Foundation, over 150 million nonelderly people in the United States received employer-based health insurance in 2018. As unemployment continues to be a problem in a COVID-19 world, the number of people who may have easy access to healthcare is decreasing. Combining the loss of insurance with the loss of income can create a problem of accessibility for a significant number of people.

Locations such as pharmacies and doctor’s offices will soon have inventory that, to many, will hold extremely high value. Banks are well equipped to handle the high value associated with their industry, but most health providers have done little to prepare. Some circles are eagerly awaiting a vaccine while others are questioning the safety and even the validity of such a fix. Those seeking to receive a vaccine may have to contend with groups who are strongly opposed to one.

Are We Ready To Reopen?

On December 4, 2016 a man walked into a Washington D.C. pizzeria with an AR-15 and began shooting. He had never visited this place before. He drove over 5 hours to get there. All of this was fueled by articles and stories he had been reading online. An election year with tensions running high can drive people to commit unthinkable acts, and 2020 has all of the elements necessary to create a similar incident.

2020 has all of the elements necessary to create a similar incident

The continued debate over reopening is also forcing people to make difficult decisions. In the current climate it may only be a matter of time before someone decides to take matters into their own hands and ‘force’ a closure. Even before the pandemic, phoned-in threats were not an uncommon prank used to cancel school for the day. As students are confronted with the threat of a virus, this kind of activity may take on a new tone. Despite most schools still being in the process of reopening, a quick search returns no shortage of examples.

As fear and desperation are at an all-time high, people continue to be divided. This division can only lead to more tragedy.

The default of physical security has long been locking the doors and adding surveillance cameras. Unfortunately, in more than 30% of venues where active shooter events occurred, installed access control systems were ineffective or defeated. Additional statistics show that, on average, the 911 call is not made for five minutes. This is time that is critical to saving lives. Automated gunfire detection systems are an active means of alerting law enforcement and first responders in the critical first moments of a tragedy.

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Why schools need a gunfire detection system – a parent’s view

By Safe Zone News

The trauma from a suspected school shooting led this mother to advocate for technology that can detect gunshots, as reported on the District Administration website.

The day started like any other day in my life as a parent, but it turned out to be  the most terrifying day in my life.

On February 13, 2020, my daughter texted me mid-morning to say she didn’t feel well and wanted me to get her from school. I replied that I would be there shortly and took my time getting ready and leaving the house.  While I was puttering around, my cell phone began to blow up with text notifications. I own a marketing agency and a blast of notifications was not an unusual occurrence so I did not rush to check my phone.

I was wrong not to be concerned, and these text messages changed my life.

The texts were from my daughter and went like this:

“Mom, I think I heard gunshots.”

“Mom, kids are running to hide!  We are at lunch.”

“We were just told by teachers to get in a classroom.”

“Momma, I am scared.  It’s a school shooting.’

As I write this, I am tearing up, and it’s been months since this happened. For what seemed an eternity but was only a half hour, I was frantic. My daughter had not called me “momma” in years, and that change tore me up. The texts continued. Teachers were heroic and sheltered the kids in classrooms.  Kids that were outside for lunch were hiding in bushes, the only shelter they could find. My daughter and her friends were scared and crying, trying to be quiet in a classroom. Then I received this text:

“Mom, someone just tried to open the door.”

This text sent me over the edge into a full-blown panic. I texted my daughter that I was on my way to her only to receive a message that I would not be allowed to get to her. I ran back into the house frantically, trying to find news on the television to see what was going on. I left my car running outside with the door opened. I left the door to my house open. I fell on the ground screaming “no, no, no, this can’t be happening” sobbing because I thought my daughter was going to die during yet another school shooting. I called her Father at work. I was screaming and crying inconsolably. He could not understand me. He just left work and drove to my home. He knew something terrible was going on because my car was running in the driveway and my front door was standing open.

For thirty intolerably long minutes I lived in this hell. There was no news, no social media posts – nothing. All I knew was my baby girl was scared, at school with a shooter, and someone tried to get into her classroom.

Finally, the local news station reported the shooting investigation. Authorities were on the scene.  Eventually, they released the news that this was only fireworks in a stairwell. The investigation found no gun on campus.

But for 45 prolonged minutes – it was real. During that time, the students were living a nightmare they had only read about, never believing it could happen in their school. For 45 endless minutes, I had to face the that I might lose my daughter, her friends, my friend’s kids to a school shooter. For days afterward, I began reaching out to other parents whose children attended school with my daughter.  We only texted each other. We could not talk on the phone; the emotion was still too strong even though, this time, it was a false alarm.

One friend did share what her son texted to her:

“Mom, this is [hidden name] my phone died, and I am using a friend’s phone. There is a shooting going on, and I am hiding in a close.  Just in case, I love you.”

Even now, as I type this article, tears are streaming down my face.

The trauma these kids experienced was no different than if it had been a real shooting. The stress caused by this ordeal for the teachers, the parents and the first responders was real. Many of the kids are in counseling with PTSD. An issue that will remain with them for months, if not years. My daughter, for one, hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since.

In my research since this event, I have learned that there is technology available that would have informed everyone immediately that this was not a shooter, and only some firecrackers. This technology is affordable, costing less than $10.00 per student for most schools. In the event of a real shooter, these systems alert authorities in a matter of seconds with critical information that enables them to respond and end the threat quickly. This includes the firearm type and the location of the shooter. This information can be sent to teachers as well to better prepare them to shelter in place or exit the building safely.

I believe that every school should have the peace of mind provided by these systems, and school district leaders that don’t provide these systems should be held personally accountable.  Every. Single. One.

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As Common as a Smoke Detector: Indoor detection of a gunshot may soon be part of campus value add

By Safe Zone News

Indoor gunfire detection has long been a high-value but high-priced addition to a complete security solution. Fortunately, as reported in Campus Security & Life Safety Magazine we are reaching a nexus of technology and demand that will remove the largest barriers to entry. As converging market forces and shifting security priorities make such systems as essential as smoke detectors, the next generation of gunfire detection will provide affordable, unobtrusive, and potentially life-saving monitoring, detection and alerting.

Being Prepared

Statistically, the probability of an active shooter event occurring at any given location is quite small. Even so, the devastation active shooters cause is so horrific that being prepared for such events demands attention and resources. A recent survey1 of top security decision-makers representing a wide range of workplaces, including schools, offices, retail spaces, places of worship, manufacturing facilities, and utilities, reported that an active shooter scenario was the physical security threat that concerned them most.

In fact, OSHA Section 5 requires employers to furnish workplaces that are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.Sadly, active shooters are a “recognized hazardfor many types of work environments. Failure to implement sufficient risk mitigation programs can result in significant fines from OSHA, as well as legal liability for injuries and deaths resulting from an attack.

In response, as today’s systems integrators sell the value of technologies like video surveillance, access control, security screening, emergency communication systems and visitor management, they are including information about how these solutions can perform in an active shooter scenario to help mitigate risk and reduce harm. However, conversations regarding indoor gunfire detection solutions have been reserved for only the most high-profile, well-funded projects.

The historically high price for such systems is multi-faceted. For effective coverage, a high number of detectors must be deployed throughout a property, and the price adds up quickly. 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, most gunshot detection systems will never, hopefully, need to alarm and notify. These compounding concerns make budgeting for their high price even harder to justify.

A New Wave of Hardware

The adoption of IoT and cloud computing in other industries has brought a new wave of low-cost hardware powered by incredibly powerful backends. This architecture, when applied to indoor gunshot detection, can be paired with cutting edge AI engines to enable a new generation of systems; systems that will redefine the capabilities and pricing of hardware sensors, software, installation, and monitoring.

For gunfire detection systems, sensors that leverage the cloud to pro-

cess and analyze their signals can completely eliminate the need for additional overhead hardware on-site. New detectors, as small and inconspicuous as the smallest of smoke detectors, can be sold for hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars each. The cloud facilitates robust mobile and web-based management software and installation tools, offering all the advantages of a with minimal upfront costs and reasonable annual service fees.

Installation costs are minimized, due to simplified network requirements and “plug and play” connectivity of IoT sensor devices that can be programmed and mapped from a mobile device or browser. Continuously improving AI, powered by cloud computing allows for constant adaptation and improvement of gunfire analysis, reducing or eliminating the need for human involvement for monitoring and throughout the alert notification sequence.

Technologies rooted in government and military applications have limited the accessibility of gunfire detection systems. As the headlines continue to be written and the question continues to be raised actions must be taken to open up that access. IoT and cloud computing continue to grow in their maturity and ubiquity, and they offer a lifeline to this previously stifled sector. The ability to process a large number of high- speed, high-precision inputs no longer has to drive up the cost of every device in the system. Instead, each device can act as a simple extension of the unlimited power in the cloud.

As the cost of indoor gunfire detection systems ceases to be an obstacle, responsible stakeholders must consider inclusion of such technology as part of a comprehensive active shooter security plan. Most have already invested in physical security technologies to harden their facilities. Now it is time to focus on strategies to save as many lives as possible, should an attack occur. A gunfire detection system can notify authorities within seconds of the first trigger pull and equip first responders with actionable intelligence to deploy immediately on site. Studies show that for every minute that victims wait for treatment, survival is 10 percent, less likely. By eliminating valuable minutes before 911 is contacted and providing clear and concise data of a gunman’s location, number of shots fired and type of weapon, gunfire detection systems can potentially slash the duration of a mass shooting in half.

A recent study by The Harford4 of more than 1 million of its small business policies showed that in a five-year period, twice as many customers made insurance claims for loss due to theft, over fire claims. Despite this, the use of camera systems — can deter and help resolve cases of theft — reduces insurance premiums, while smoke detectors are legally required in every room and hallway of all commercial buildings. One explanation for this is obvious; smoke detectors can help save lives and do so at a price point that’s affordable for any size organization. Workplaces can’t afford not to have them.

An Area of Risk

Another explanation is the size of the risk. The risk of an active shooter, much like the risk of a fire, is an area risk. A fire anywhere in the building is a problem for the entire building. The same is true for an active shooter. If one area of a building has no smoke detectors the building is considered unsafe. Maximizing coverage and minimizing response time is critical to an effective system deployment. Combining full coverage with accurate real-time information allows for real-time response, so planning an approach no longer becomes a guessing game for first responders.

Newer systems that tie directly to 911 call centers, or public safety answering points, ensure that information flows freely to 911 operators. This allows those first on the scene to quickly get their bearings and put a plan into action.

On campuses of more than one building, this can have a profound impact on the duration of an event. Requiring the search of every building or every floor of a building can take an incredible amount of time even when executed by a highly skilled team. Providing a way to prioritize those locations with accurate and unbiased information not only allows the situation to be contained. This information can also be used to make informed decisions on the safest areas and route innocent bystanders.

Extending these systems with integrations to video, mass notification and access control can give a complete active shooter response plan with minimal dependence on any one persons actions. Active shooter situations present a level of chaos that is difficult to train and prepare. First responders and campus staff have seen in the past how a plan can fall apart at first contact. Having as much of the response as possible executed through these automated integrations can free up staff to handle other duties.

The next generation of indoor gunfire detection systems bring a lot to the table. Given their ability to help save lives, with only a small incremental increase in security budgeting, they’ll soon be an indispensable element of every active shooter technology plan.

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Gunfire Detection Systems Gain New Urgency

By Safe Zone News

As the U.S. continues to experience an unprecedented period of economic and social turmoil, the country set a striking record in 2020: June saw the highest number of monthly gun background checks in history, at 3.9 million, as reported in AV Network.

Mental health experts are warning that lockdown measures enacted to curb COVID-19 may be contributing to a rise in mental health issues, while at the same time the nation is undergoing a historically significant conversation over the role of police and law enforcement policy that has already resulted in major school districts eliminating on-site officer positions.

As a result of these ongoing circumstances, forward-thinking technology integrators now have a prime opportunity to promote and install affordable, intelligent gunfire detection systems that can save lives by expediting police response times and providing detailed real-time information. Whether a gunfire detection system is used in a school, a dormitory, a hotel, an office building, or a transit center, it is currently the fastest, surest way to communicate critical active shooter details to law enforcement and ensure a rapid response.

Saving seconds saves lives, and the best gunfire detection systems available today can significantly reduce the time required to end an active shooter threat. For an average of $200 per room (about $30,000 per school or only $8 per student per year), schools and other organizations can blanket entire properties with highly sensitive gunfire detectors that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify gunfire and automatically send information to law enforcement without any human interaction required.

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Tough Topic: Making Restaurants Safer

By Safe Zone News

As reported in Modern Restaurant Management, the restaurant and bar industry has undergone major education from law enforcement officials on how to respond to active shooters in recent years, with a consensus forming around the basic idea of “Run, Hide & Fight.” Combined with well-rehearsed plans and specific emergency duties for individual employees, this relatively simple safety advice can save both employee and customer lives through preparation.

What the guidance can’t do, however, is speed up the crucial step of delivering accurate and complete information on the active shooter situation to local law enforcement and emergency responders. Police departments are considered the first line of tactical action against armed suspects, but they can’t simply rush into a building, guns blazing.  Copious amounts of information are required before officers can make an effective entrance and apprehend or confront a suspect.

With an advanced, affordable gunfire detection system deployed throughout bars and restaurants, these public spaces can automatically and immediately send local authorities a full report on the situation. Depending on the gunfire detection system used, it may include how many shooters there are, how many shots have been fired, the number and type of weapons being used, and most importantly where the shooter currently is inside the building. The best systems also provide mobile apps with real-time updating, so police have fully up-to-date information on the shooter(s)’ position whether they are at the police station or at the restaurant’s front door.

Adding to the concern, the documented COVID-19-induced spike in firearm sales only adds to the concern. NBC News recently reported that gun sales and federal background checks rose to an all-time high in March, with the FBI conducting 3.7 million background checks, the highest total since the background check system was launched in 1998 and 1.1 million higher than the number conducted in March 2019.

The combination of rapidly increasing gun sales and the emergence of Covid-19-related mental health concerns means that restaurant owners and operators must take all available steps to enhance the safety and security of their buildings.

How Active Shooter Events Unfold

In recent years, the conversation around active shooters has turned from prevention to mitigation, focusing on the ability of law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively to neutralize an armed suspect and save lives. As every active shooter is a highly volatile and fluid situation, one of the most important actions a restaurant/bar can take is to provide as much information as possible to law enforcement so police can arrive on scene and take safe, decisive action.

Not much data is available on restaurant-specific active shooter events, but the similar scenario of U.S. school shootings over the past 30 years has been well-studied* and documented, including police response time. On average, it takes:

  • Five minutes for 911 to be alerted to an active shooter
  • 13 minutes for police to arrive on site
  • 20-30 minutes for police to interview witnesses, assess the situation and determine an entry plan
  • Seven to eight minutes to confront the shooter

Adding those minutes up shows us the staggering reality: in active shooter situations, police may require 45-50 minutes before they can actually identify, locate and apprehend a suspect. When lives are on the line, every available measure to reduce that time frame must be considered.

Saving Seconds Saves Lives

In an active shooter situation, police are expected to take decisive action and neutralize the shooter(s), but their actions can only be effective if they are provided with accurate, real-time information.

To aid law enforcement’s fight against active shooters, innovative technology companies have developed powerful gunfire detection systems to greatly reduce the time required to apprehend suspect(s). Among the newly available tools, the most important capability is automatic delivery of gunfire data to police that can eliminate several steps of the timeline explained above, including the 5-minute police alert delay.

As an information gathering device, gunfire detection systems may be unrivaled in their power and speed. Some gunfire detection systems use multiple sensors to recognize that a gun has been fired, including concussion sensors, audio triggers and spectrometers that compare suspicious sounds and bright flashes against vast libraries of real gunfire signatures. In a cloud-based system, the small gunfire detectors are placed in ceiling corners in restaurant lobbies, bars, and dining rooms, and gunfire information is immediately sent to a server for verification, then delivered to local authorities in a detailed report – all within a few seconds.

Specifically, the identification of individual firearm types is a major benefit for law enforcement, allowing them to prepare and plan for the specific threat they must face, including what protective equipment they need. A shooter with a high caliber semi-automatic rifle may require a different approach than a shooter with a handgun. In addition to helping protect officers and ensure a successful operation, this knowledge further reduces the police’s timeline by eliminating or reducing the need to interview on-site witnesses. When combined, the advantages provided by intelligent gunfire detection systems can cut up to 25 minutes off the total police engagement time from shots fired to suspect apprehension.

The Best Tool for the Job

Using the technological tools available today, restaurant and bar operators across the United States can help law enforcement safely apprehend suspects faster and save more lives during active shooter events. Weighed against other solutions, gunfire detection systems are the only option that shorten the law enforcement response timeline. A number of companies currently market gunfire detection systems, with varying prices and capabilities. Safe Zone’s gunfire detection system provides a robust combination of features at a cost up to 90 percent less than competing systems.

If restaurant/bar owners and law enforcement agencies recognize the power and value of gunfire detection systems, our nation can make great strides in reducing the casualties from the next active shooter event.

*Data from “The Police Response to Active Shooter Incidents” from Washington DC Police Executive Research Forum, March 2014

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Gunfire Detection Systems Are More Important Than Ever in a World Impacted by COVID-19

By Safe Zone News

An amazing thing happened in the United States when the nation contracted under the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic: March 2020 became the first March since 2002 without a school shooting. As reported on Spaces4Learning, this achievement didn’t come from school administration or gun law changes. It came from the complete closure of all schools, colleges and universities nationwide.

To put this achievement into greater perspective, a 2018 analysis by the Washington Post showed that the United States experienced school shootings in 43 states from 2000 through 2018 at a rate of about one per month, leaving 250 students and faculty dead. The shootings occurred at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities.

Now, with the fall 2020 semester just a couple months away, school and university administrators are planning how to best reopen their campuses in a world that has been transformed by the virus. People are in serious distress about the virus itself and because of the devastating second- and third-order effects of record unemployment and the overall negative economic impact the virus has caused.

A documented pandemic spike in firearm sales only adds to the concern. NBC News recently reported that gun sales and federal background checks rose to an all-time high in March. In fact, the FBI conducted 3.7 million background checks in March 2020, the highest total since the national instant check system for buyers was launched in 1998 and 1.1 million higher than the number conducted in March 2019.

The combination of rapidly increasing gun sales and the emergence of COVID-19-related mental health concerns means that schools and universities must take all available steps to enhance the safety and security of their campuses. With schools still closed, administrators have a prime opportunity to install modern technological solutions to ensure we don’t return to a spike of school shooting deaths in 2021.

How Active Shooter Events Unfold

In recent years, the conversation around school shootings has turned from prevention to mitigation, focusing on the ability of law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively to neutralize an armed suspect and save lives. As every school shooting is a highly volatile and fluid situation, one of the most important actions a school can take is to provide as much information as possible to law enforcement so police can arrive on scene and take safe, decisive action.

After studying school shooting incidents that occurred over the past 30 years in the U.S., the statistics are brought into stark relief. On average, it takes:

  1. 5 minutes for 911 to be alerted to an active shooter
  2. 13 minutes for police to arrive on site
  3. 20-30 minutes for police to interview witnesses, assess the situation and determine an entry plan
  4. 7-8 minutes to confront the shooter

It is crucial for superintendents, school boards, police departments and other district decision-makers to recognize that it can take 45 minutes or more for law enforcement to respond to apprehend an active shooter. When lives are on the line, every available measure to reduce that time frame must be considered.

Saving Seconds Saves Lives

The tragic events at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 brought the role of law enforcement into the national spotlight as news coverage showed officers waiting outside the building while shots could be heard from inside, eventually resulting in the arrest of one officer for negligence. In an active shooter situation, police are expected to take decisive action and neutralize the shooter(s), but they cannot do so effectively without knowing how many shooters there are, where they are in the building, and gathering every piece of intel they possibly can.

While many schools have considered adding metal detectors, security guards, active shooter training or letting some teachers carry guns, none of those tactics help teachers and students escape, or provide usable information to law enforcement. To aid in a rapid response, innovative technology companies have developed powerful gunfire detection systems to greatly reduce the time required before a suspect is apprehended. Among all of the newly available tools, the most important capability is automatic delivery of data to police that can eliminate several steps of the timeline explained above. This eliminates the 5-minute average time for a school staff member to alert police to the situation.

As an information-gathering device, gunfire detection systems may be unrivaled in their power and speed. Some gunfire detection systems use multiple sensors to recognize that a gun has been fired, including air pressure sensors and audio triggers that compare suspicious sounds against vast libraries of real gunfire sounds. In a cloud-based system, the small sensors placed in ceiling corners in classrooms, hallways and dormitories all communicate with a remote server, reducing on site complexities and ensuring reliable performance.

The systems go far beyond identifying when a shooter is present, adding real-time information about where the shooter is, how many shots have been fired and even what type of firearm is being used. All of these data points are updated automatically as shots continue to be identified, and some systems provide mobile apps for police to get constant updates while on site.

The detection of firearm type is a major benefit for law enforcement, allowing them to prepare and plan for the specific threat they must face. A shooter with a high caliber semi-automatic rifle may require a different approach than a shooter with a small-caliber handgun. In addition to helping officers and ensuring a successful operation, this knowledge further reduces the police’s timeline by eliminating or reducing the need to interview on-site witnesses. These measures combined can reduce the time to suspect apprehension by half.

The Best Tool for the Job

Using the technological tools available today, school districts across the United States can help law enforcement safely apprehend suspects faster and save more lives during active shooter events. Weighed against other solutions, gunfire detection systems are the only option that shorten the law enforcement response timeline. A number of companies currently market gunfire detection systems, with varying prices and capabilities.

If school officials and law enforcement agencies recognize the power and value of gunfire detection systems, our nation can make great strides in reducing the casualties that result from school shootings.

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How Hotels with Active Shooters Stand to Benefit Greatly from Gunfire Detection Systems

By Safe Zone News

As reported in Hospitality Technology, the lodging industry has undergone major education from law enforcement officials on how to respond to active shooters in recent years, with a consensus forming around the basic idea of “Run, Hide & Fight.” Combined with well-rehearsed plans and specific emergency duties for individual employees, this relatively simple safety advice can save both employee and customer lives through preparation.

What the guidance can’t do, however, is speed up the crucial step of delivering accurate and complete information on the active shooter situation to local law enforcement and emergency responders. Police departments are considered the first line of tactical action against armed suspects, but they can’t simply rush into a building, guns blazing.  Copious amounts of information are required before officers can make an effective entrance and apprehend or confront a suspect.

However, with an advanced, affordable gunfire detection system deployed throughout guest rooms and public spaces, hotels can automatically and immediately send local authorities a full report on the situation. Depending on the gunfire detection system used, it may include how many shooters there are, how many shots have been fired, the number and type of weapons being used, and most importantly where the shooter currently is inside the building. The best systems also provide mobile apps with real-time updating so police have fully up-to-date information on the shooter(s)’ position whether they are at the police station or at the hotel’s front door.

Adding to the concern, the documented COVID-19-induced spike in firearm sales only adds to the concern. NBC News recently reported that gun sales and federal background checks rose to an all-time high in March, with the FBI conducting 3.7 million background checks, the highest total since the background check system was launched in 1998 and 1.1 million higher than the number conducted in March 2019.

The combination of rapidly increasing gun sales and the emergence of COVID-19-related mental health concerns means that hotels must take all available steps to enhance the safety and security of their buildings. 

How Active Shooter Events Unfold

In recent years, the conversation around active shooters has turned from prevention to mitigation, focusing on the ability of law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively to neutralize an armed suspect and save lives. As every active shooter is a highly volatile and fluid situation, one of the most important actions a hotel can take is to provide as much information as possible to law enforcement so police can arrive on scene and take safe, decisive action.

Not much data is available on lodging-specific active shooter events, but the similar scenario of U.S. school shootings over the past 30 years has been well-studied* and documented, including police response time. On average, it takes:

  • 5 minutes for 911 to be alerted to an active shooter
  • 13 minutes for police to arrive on site
  • 20-30 minutes for police to interview witnesses, assess the situation and determine an entry plan
  • 7-8 minutes to confront the shooter

Adding those minutes up shows us the staggering reality: in active shooter situations, police may require 45-50 minutes before they can actually identify, locate and apprehend a suspect. When lives are on the line, every available measure to reduce that time frame must be considered.

Saving Seconds Saves Lives

The tragic events at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Festival and Mandalay Bay in 2017 prompted a national discussion over how hotel security functions, what steps can be taken for lodging operators and adjacent businesses, and how police can more quickly respond and apprehend shooters to save lives. In an active shooter situation, police are expected to take decisive action and neutralize the shooter(s), but their actions can only be effective if they are provided with accurate, real-time information.

To aid law enforcement’s fight against active shooters, innovative technology companies have developed powerful gunfire detection systems to greatly reduce the time required to apprehend suspect(s). Among the newly available tools, the most important capability is automatic delivery of gunfire data to police that can eliminate several steps of the timeline explained above, including the 5-minute police alert delay.

As an information gathering device, gunfire detection systems may be unrivaled in their power and speed. Some gunfire detection systems use multiple sensors to recognize that a gun has been fired, including concussion sensors, audio triggers and spectrometers that compare suspicious sounds and bright flashes against vast libraries of real gunfire signatures. In a cloud-based system, the small gunfire detectors are placed in ceiling corners in guest rooms, hallways, meeting rooms, lobbies and restaurants, and gunfire information is immediately sent to a server for verification, then delivered to local authorities in a detailed report – all within a few seconds.

Specifically, the identification of individual firearm types is a major benefit for law enforcement, allowing them to prepare and plan for the specific threat they must face, including what protective equipment they need. A shooter with a high caliber semi-automatic rifle may require a different approach than a shooter with a handgun. In addition to helping protect officers and ensure a successful operation, this knowledge further reduces the police’s timeline by eliminating or reducing the need to interview on-site witnesses. When combined, the advantages provided by intelligent gunfire detection systems can cut up to 25 minutes off the total police engagement time from shots fired to suspect apprehension.

The Best Tool for the Job

Using the technological tools available today, hotels and lodging operators across the United States can help law enforcement safely apprehend suspects faster and save more lives during active shooter events. If lodging owners and law enforcement agencies recognize the power and value of gunfire detection systems, our nation can make great strides in reducing the casualties from the next active shooter event.

*Data from “The Police Response to Active Shooter Incidents” from Washington DC Police Executive Research Forum, March 2014

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The Edge Group Adds Safe Zone

By Safe Zone NewsNo Comments

Safe Zone, the industry-leading manufacturer and marketer of the next-generation Safe Zone Gunfire Detection System, has announced an alliance with The Edge Group, the forward-looking distributor-owned buying group that connects more than 140 independent distributors with leading manufacturers in the datacom, CCTV/security, low voltage, electronic MRO, and electronic OEM industries. Smart Cities Surveillance reported the announcement online.

“The addition of The Edge Group to our sales organization means that the full benefits of superior quality, affordably-priced gunfire detection are going to be made available to a buying group that represents more than 1,200 stocking locations throughout North America,” Safe Zone President Mike Anderson said today.

“Through the demonstrated abilities of their network, we will be better able to meet the needs of schools, offices, retailers, malls, houses of worship, among others, in smaller markets everywhere,” Anderson emphasized.

Amplifying that point, The Edge Group EVP of Sales & Business Development Nick Scarane said today, “Reliable and affordable gunfire detection can now become an important part of a complete security system for every one of our distributor members and their customers. Safe Zone has developed a groundbreaking solution that is easy to purchase, install and maintain.

“We look forward to presenting this solution to our members,” he continued.  “Partnering with The Edge Group means that Safe Zone now has a partner who thinks and acts like they do, addressing the challenges of middle market independent distribution by developing complete sales and marketing programs designed to drive sales to the next level of success.”

Collectively, Edge distributors have more than 1,120 stocking locations, $156MM in inventory, and more than $1.2B in annual sales.

The Safe Zone Gunfire Detection System combines state-of-the-art detection hardware with leading edge machine learning capabilities to create the world’s most sophisticated and reliable gunfire detection system ever brought to market. The system’s small inconspicuous sensors are designed to be quickly and easily integrated with a complete security system solution and installed throughout any facility to provide 24/7 active site-wide monitoring.

When gunfire occurs, Safe Zone alerts on-site security, building occupants and local authorities within seconds and provides detailed information that includes number of shots fired, type of firearm — and a building floorplan tracking the shooter’s location and movement. Key to the system’s performance accuracy is the patent-pending tri-mode data capture system that features acoustic, spectral and concussion sensors that instantaneously collect data that is then analyzed by a cloud-based machine learning system. If gunfire is confirmed, Safe Zone immediately activates the built-in automated response system that sends all the information to the local 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Centers (ECC). Safe Zone is the only gunfire detection system utilizing RapidSOS, the only all-digital connection for communicating with 911.

Safe Zone is available in both Wi-Fi and PoE detector versions for $199.95 (Wi-Fi) and $299.95 (PoE) with mounting hardware included with the price. Dealers can place orders through their local Safe Zone sales representative: Security Solutions (SSI) Lanier Rep Group (LRG), or Thomasson Marketing Group (TMG). The solution is also available from Anixter, ADI, The Edge Group, Wesco and other mid-market regional distributors.

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Member Perspective: The Rise of Indoor Gunfire Detectors

By Safe Zone News

Indoor gunfire detection has long been a high-value but high-priced addition to a complete security solution. Fortunately, we are reaching a nexus of technology and demand that will remove the largest barriers to entry. As reported on securityindustry.org, as converging market forces and shifting security priorities make such systems as essential as smoke detectors, the next generation of gunfire detection will provide affordable, unobtrusive and potentially life-saving monitoring, detection and alerting.

Statistically, the probability of an active shooter event occurring at any given location is quite small. Even so, the devastation active shooters cause is so horrific that being prepared for such events demands attention and resources. A recent survey of top security decision makers representing a wide range of workplaces, including schools, offices, retail spaces, places of worship, manufacturing facilities and utilities, reported that an active shooter scenario was the physical security threat that concerned them most.

In fact, Section 5 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to furnish workplaces that are “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” Sadly, active shooters are a “recognized hazard” for many types of work environments. Failure to implement sufficient risk mitigation programs can result in significant fines from OSHA, as well as legal liability for injuries and deaths resulting from an attack.

In response, as today’s systems integrators sell the value of technologies like video surveillance, access control, security screening, emergency communication systems and visitor management, they are including information about how these solutions can perform in an active shooter scenario to help mitigate risk and reduce harm; however, conversations regarding indoor gunfire detection solutions have been reserved for only the most high-profile, well-funded projects.

The historically high price for such systems is multifaceted. For effective coverage, a high number of detectors must be deployed throughout a property, and the price adds up quickly. 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, most gunshot detection systems will never, hopefully, need to alarm and notify. These compounding concerns make budgeting for their high price even harder to justify.

The adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing in other industries has brought a new wave of low-cost hardware powered by incredibly powerful backends. This architecture, when applied to indoor gunshot detection, can be paired with cutting edge artificial intelligence (AI) engines to enable a new generation of systems; systems that will redefine the capabilities and pricing of hardware sensors, software, installation and monitoring.

For gunfire detection systems, sensors that leverage the cloud to process and analyze their signals can completely eliminate the need for additional overhead hardware on-site. New detectors, as small and inconspicuous as the smallest of smoke detectors, can be sold for hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars each. The cloud facilitates robust mobile and web-based management software and installation tools, offering all the advantages of a software-as-a-service model with minimal upfront costs and reasonable annual service fees. Installation costs are minimized, due to simplified network requirements and “plug and play” connectivity of IoT sensor devices that can be programmed and mapped from a mobile device or browser. Continuously-improving AI powered by cloud computing allows for constant adaptation and improvement of gunfire analysis, reducing or eliminating the need for human involvement for monitoring and throughout the alert notification sequence.

Technologies rooted in government and military applications have limited the accessibility of gunfire detection systems. As the headlines continue to be written and the question continues to be raised, actions must be taken to open up that access. IoT and cloud computing continue to grow in their maturity and ubiquity, and they offer a lifeline to this previously stifled sector. The ability to process a large number of high-speed, high-precision inputs no longer has to drive up the cost of every device in the system. Instead, each device can act as a simple extension of the unlimited power in the cloud.

As the cost of indoor gunfire detection systems ceases to be an obstacle, responsible stakeholders must consider inclusion of such technology as part of a comprehensive active shooter security plan. Most have already invested in physical security technologies to harden their facilities. Now it is time to focus on strategies to save as many lives as possible, should an attack occur. A gunfire detection system can notify authorities within seconds of the first trigger pull and equip first responders with actionable intelligence to deploy immediately on site. Studies show that for every minute that victims wait for treatment, survival is 10% less likely. By eliminating valuable minutes before 911 is contacted and providing clear and concise data of the gunman’s location, number of shots fired and type of weapon, gunfire detection systems can potentially slash the duration of a mass shooting in half.

recent study by The Hartford of over 1 million of its small business policies showed that in a five-year period, twice as many customers made insurance claims for loss due to theft than for fire. Despite this, the use of camera systems – which can deter and help resolve cases of theft – reduces insurance premiums, while smoke detectors are legally required in every room and hallway of all commercial buildings. One explanation for this is obvious; smoke detectors can help save lives and do so at a price point that’s affordable for any size organization. Workplaces can’t afford NOT to have them.

Another explanation is the size of the risk. The risk of an active shooter, much like the risk of a fire, is an area risk. A fire anywhere in the building is a problem for the entire building. The same is true for an active shooter. If one area of a building has no smoke detectors the building is considered unsafe. Maximizing coverage and minimizing response time is critical to an effective system deployment. Combining full coverage with accurate real-time information allows for real-time response, so planning an approach no longer becomes a guessing game for first responders.

Newer systems that tie directly to 911 call centers or public safety answering points ensure that information flows freely to 911, which allows those first on the scene to quickly get their bearings and put a plan into action. On campuses of more than one building this can have a profound impact on the duration of an event. Requiring the search of every building or every floor of a building can take an incredible amount of time even when executed by a highly skilled team. Providing a way to prioritize those locations with accurate and unbiased information not only allows the situation to be contained. This information can also be used to make informed decisions on the safest areas and route innocent bystanders.

Extending these systems with integrations to video, mass notification, access control and more can give a complete active shooter response plan with minimal dependence on any one individual’s actions. Active shooter situations present a level of chaos for which it is difficult to train and prepare, and we have seen in the past how a plan can fall apart at first contact. Having as much of the response as possible executed through these automated integrations can free up personnel to handle other duties.

The next generation of indoor gunfire detection systems bring a lot to the table. Given their ability to help save lives, with only a small incremental increase in security budgeting, they’ll soon be an indispensable element of every active shooter technology plan.

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Veteran Police Officer and Former Army Sergeant Robert T. Rose Calls the Safe Zone Gunfire Detection System a Life Saver

By Safe Zone News

“Seconds mean lives — lives saved.” That’s the irrefutable calculation for Robert T. Rose when it comes to detecting, identifying and locating active shooters and their weapons in today’s increasingly vulnerable workplace, school and house-of-worship environments.

As reported by Sound & Video Contractor,

Rose is the CEO and President of Bansbach Easylift of North America, Inc., a $77-million Melbourne, Florida-based supplier of high-quality motion control devices used in military, aerospace and other applications. He is also a former Army Sergeant, Police Officer, Sergeant Deputy Sheriff, Police Academy Instructor and Director of the Melbourne (Florida) Police Foundation.  He is currently also a Reserve Sergeant Deputy Sheriff, a trained sharpshooter, and a Director of the FBINA Foundation.

In all of these capacities, Rose has become pointedly aware of the need for speed and accuracy when it comes to determining the key questions for first responders to these types of situations: Where is the shooter, what kinds of guns are involved, how many shots have been fired, and when were they fired. “A semiautomatic weapon can fire two rounds per second, so in 60 seconds the number of lives that can be saved, well, you do the math,” says Rose — who has come to appreciate the ability of the next-generation Safe Zone Gunfire Detection System to do all of those critical functions cost-effectively.

Superior in features and pricing to all competitors, Safe Zone’s Gunfire Detection System eliminates the barriers of cost and complication that have so far prevented gunfire detection from becoming a mainstream option for facilities of every type. No other solution can come close to matching Safe Zone’s accuracy, speed, performance, reliability and cost-efficiency. “The system is flawless.  I’ve tested it, firing approximately 8,000 rounds over four or five months now, and every time Safe Zone has given me the exact location of the gunman and what he was shooting,” Rose assures.

“I have 100-percent confidence in the system. It provides me with real-time situational awareness.” Part of Rose’s evaluation of the Safe Zone Gunfire Detection System took place on the 22-acre campus of a local high school. In that realistic environment, he says, “I was notified in seconds instead of minutes.”

Rose points out that the kind of information and AI-powered automated actions that Safe Zone’s Gunfire Detection System provides are crucial for law enforcement in active-shooter situations. For instance, push-alert notifications are immediately sent to team-member mobile devices via the free Safe Zone mobile app (which can be downloaded from the Apple Store and the Google Play Store). In addition, SMS text messages are sent to an unlimited number of contacts in a user-managed list.

What’s more, Safe Zone integrates with other systems such as door locks, alarm panels, cameras and emergency notification systems that can be programmed to respond in the event of an alert. “The Safe Zone app is unique — and priceless,” says Rose, adding that getting the original shooter locations accurately and quickly are vitally important in situations where bad actors can mingle with innocent bystanders, confusing law enforcement’s efforts. Having that kind of accurate information early on can make the difference between life and death.

Key to the system’s performance accuracy is the patent-pending tri-mode data capture system that features acoustic, spectral and concussion sensors that instantaneously collect data that is then analyzed by a cloud-based machine learning system. “At a time when we don’t have enough law-enforcement officers, Safe Zone is a force multiplier,” he says. “This product is undeniably going to save hundreds and hundreds of lives.”

The Safe Zone Gunfire Detection System combines state-of-the-art detection hardware with leading edge machine learning capabilities to create the world’s most sophisticated and reliable gunfire detection system ever brought to market. The system’s small inconspicuous sensors are designed to be quickly and easily integrated with a complete security system solution and installed throughout any facility to provide 24/7 active site-wide monitoring.

When gunfire occurs, Safe Zone alerts on-site security, building occupants and local authorities within seconds and provides detailed information that includes number of shots fired, type of firearm — and a building floorplan tracking the shooter’s location and movement.  Key to the system’s performance accuracy is the patent-pending tri-mode data capture system that features acoustic, spectral and concussion sensors that instantaneously collect data that is then analyzed by a cloud-based machine learning system. If gunfire is confirmed, Safe Zone immediately activates the built-in automated response system that sends all the information to the local 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Centers (ECC). Safe Zone is the only gunfire detection system utilizing RapidSOS, the only all digital connection for communicating with 9-1-1.

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