What if I told you that there is technology available to your property right now that can detect a gunshot and immediately notify the police? Gunshot detection technology is not the only innovative technology available to you for active threat detection. Companies around the world are rapidly developing new technology such as updated mass notification systems, and smart building integration tools to help you better prepare your facilities for active threats.
Mass Notification Systems
As written about in past BOMA/Suburban Chicago Emergency Preparedness Month articles, companies such as Everbridge have created systems that can help you and your team immediately notify building occupants of various emergency situations occurring on or around your property. In implementing this type of system, template messages can be created to be sent out to active users depending on the specific emergencies via email, text message, smartphone apps, etc. Further, smartphone apps can be utilized to store emergency evacuation routes for your building, as well as a personal duress button for any registered user of the application that you choose.
One of the more recent developments in mass notification systems is BluePoint Alert pull stations. This system works in a similar manner to a fire alarm pull station, in that it is a device that can be activated and immediately alert first responders to active threats in progress. In coordination with local police, the system is being adopted in schools and healthcare facilities throughout the country. However, the BluePoint system can be a useful tool for commercial and industrial facilities as well. The creators have made the system easy to implement as many of the applications can be wireless, thus removing the need for costly infrastructure installations. More info about this system can be found at www.bluepointalert.com.
Gunshot Detection Systems
One of the biggest challenges that arise from Active Shooter emergencies is the average time each incident lasts: five minutes or less. This means that the incident is usually over by the time first responders arrive onsite or, in some cases, before first responders are even notified. Gunshot detection systems are designed to detect and locate gunshots instantaneously and (application dependent) immediately alert first responders. This system works in the same way that most fire alarm control panels are designed to immediately notify the Fire Department upon activation of a fire alarm.
Systems such as the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System utilize multiple methods of detection to confirm an active shooter emergency. It first uses acoustic sensors to detect the sound of the bullet as it passes through the air, and the sound of the weapon when it fires the projectile. To reduce false alarms, the second detection method is of the infrared flash that is produced upon the exit of the bullet from the gun. In addition to instantaneously notifying authorities, it can also be integrated with other building systems such as your elevator management system to automatically recall all elevators to another location in the building, away from the location of the gunshot. More info on the Guardian system can be found at www.shooterdetectionsystems.com/indoor-detection/
Smart Building Technology
The Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon has contributed to rapidly improving technologies that enhance the overall experience of building occupants and also making the building itself more efficient. This advent is now also enhancing the safety and security of buildings and their occupants. This can be evidenced by the ever-growing integration of Building Automated Systems (BAS) with security and life safety systems. Integrations of access control, video management, and emergency communications have already contributed to an improved level of safety and security throughout many properties. BAS integration can take that to another level by allowing lighting and HVAC to be triggered on or off to thwart an active threat. For example, smart lighting systems can quickly turn off all lighting in areas where occupants are locked down. Additionally, the motion sensors of those light systems can immediately track the movement of the shooter in dimly-lit areas at night. This integration can also lead to better energy-efficiency as access control systems can help determine when lighting or HVAC systems may not be needed for certain unoccupied areas of buildings.
One of my favorite quotes on the advancement of technology is one that I heard at a real estate industry presentation last year. In his presentation, the former CEO of 1871, Howard Tullman, stated, "Today, technology is changing at a rate faster than it ever has, and is also changing at a rate slower than it ever will again." As technology continues to rapidly develop, many more tools will be available to help improve the overall safety and security of your facility. However, not all technology is created equally, and not all technology can or should be applied to all scenarios. It is more important now than ever to be educated on the different options that are available to you, but also to learn what is the right fit for your specific application. I would encourage all managers to align themselves and their facility with a partner who is aware of these options and how they should be applied.
About the Author: Jason Sikora is the Business Development Manager for SOS Security. Jason has over 12 years of experience in the security industry and is the former Director of Security & Life Safety for various properties in downtown and suburban Chicago. Jason is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) through ASIS International and a past recipient of the Illinois Security Professional Association Chairman's Award. He is an active member of ASIS Chicago, BOMA Chicago's Preparedness Committee, BOMA/Suburban Chicago's Emergency Preparedness Committee, Illinois Security Professionals Association, STIC, and is the founder and former Vice Chair of the O'Hare Area Property Managers group. Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.