As the number of active shooter incidents reaches an all time high, prioritizing employee and visitor safety becomes increasingly more important, everyday. High-tech gunshot detection systems, designed to protect lives from an active shooter threat, are often perceived to come with a complicated pricing structure and prohibitive price tag. However, as the technology has evolved, this no longer needs to be the case. Three key factors should be examined at the commencement of any implementation considerations; type of detection, installation demands and billing structure of the service.

Type of Detection

Identifying a system that guarantees accuracy, yet requires low detector density, facilitates affordable protection from an active shooter threat. To date, gunshot detection systems have evolved over three distinct generations of technology. First generation systems, singularly register the percussive element of a gunshot. They suffer low accuracy rates, with a high volume of false alarms. Second generation systems rely upon percussion and the infrared flash of gunfire. Accuracy is significantly improved, but the range of each detector is short, and crucially, line of sight is required to trigger. This necessitates a high detector density, resulting in prohibitive costs and minimal real-world applications.

The third generation of gunshot detection technology encompases the capability of previous models, with an additional machine learning algorithm. This advanced system senses for either an infrared muzzle flash or percussive blast, while simultaneously utilizing machine learning sound analysis to verify gunfire. This method presents the most accurate system available, with a near-zero false alarm rate, delivering the highest level of situational intelligence to key personnel. Critically, it does not require line of sight to trigger, as only two factors are required to activate. By circumventing the need for line of sight to activate, each detector is able to reliably cover a significantly greater area than previous generations of technology. It has the ability to sense through walls, while still maintaining its accuracy rate. As such, a lower detector density is required. In today’s fiscally accountable environment, the type of gunshot detection system deployed, not only dictates the performance achieved, but determines its economic viability for large scale deployment. Third generation technology affords almost any organization the opportunity to provide the ultimate protection for its employees and visitors, within tight budgetary constraints.

Installation and Integration Demands

Traditionally, legacy gunshot detection systems have been overly expensive, and as such financially inaccessible to the majority of organizations. A significant portion of this cost originated from installation and integration demands, with these generally being far greater than the capital cost of the equipment itself. Such systems also require ethernet data cables and power sources to each individual detector, with PoE switches connecting the on-site server. This process demanded both high material and labour costs, as well as the significant complication of configuration with existing corporate networks.

This obstacle can now be overcome by selecting a smart gunshot detection system, where detectors utilize a wireless mesh connection, with data hopped between devices back to a gateway. As a result of this configuration, detectors do not require a wired data connection, only a high or low voltage power supply, and automatically “plug and play” configure to the site. This simplifies the process from both a materials and labor perspective, to an average of one hour of labor per detector, while reducing the potential roadblocks from Facilities and IT departments, as the system only needs to connect to the external internet via a gateway. Therefore, it does not need to interfere with the internal corporate intranet network, a significant vulnerability of other available security systems.

Service Structure

Contemporary security installations require considerable capital expenditure and pose a financial risk to customers, as well as generating significant budgetary hurdles. High upfront device costs leave customers open to the dangers of being left with outdated technology, both from a detection and event notification standpoint, placing additional strain on already limited budgets. Alternatively, by opting for a service based approach, the affordable costs can be integrated into an operational expenditure budget, facilitating fast adoption.

Paying for the system annually, significantly reduces risk to an organization, making procurement less contentious. The gunshot detection vendor is completely responsible for updating both the infrastructure and software, even as technology develops, ensuring that you always receive the highest level of protection. This business model offers transparency, including all hardware costs, notification software, regular updates, monitoring and warranties, with no hidden or surprising fees.

With active shooter attacks and workplace violence ranking as two, of the top three, security threats faced by American organizations, prioritizing employee and visitor safety from such danger is paramount. Historically, limited detection range, high upfront device costs and specialist installation labor charges have too often rendered infrastructure improvements, such as gunshot detection, incredibly expensive. However, as the technology has continued to evolve, innovative gunshot detection can now not only deliver higher accuracy and greater situational intelligence, but this can be secured at a more affordable and deployable cost. Due to the advances in third generation gunshot detection technology, a significantly lower density of detectors is possible, reducing the budgetary cost, while simultaneously delivering the strongest protection on the market. Crucially, eliminating overly-complicated installation requirements and by making integration universal and simple, further reduces expenditure. Finally, by sourcing a pricing structure, that is affordable, straightforward and risk averse, allows more buildings to be protected from the tragic consequences posed by an active shooter threat.