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Gunshot Detection Technology: A New Advantage in Your Security Arsenal


Americans spend about half of their waking hours inside the buildings where they work. And, once inside, employees assume that they are safe from the urban crime outside of their offices. That should be particularly so in government buildings as well as commercial facilities.


Yet shocking, violent events keep occurring across North America that bring that presumption into question. Consider the recent attack in Ottawa, where a gunman killed an honor guard soldier, or another where a gunman opened fire on multiple buildings in downtown Austin, Texas. There was also an incident in the Florida State University library and yet another in West Virginia. All of these took place in the five weeks between late October and the end of November 2014.

In fact, according to FBI findings in a recently released “Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013,” the largest percentage of incidents — 45.6% — took place in commercial environments, followed by 24.3% in schools, and 10% on government properties.

These events change our concept of workplace safety and our preconceived notions of what building security means. Fortunately, new tools are giving building security professionals fresh hope and some serious upper-hand advantages in the event of active shooter attacks. Forward-thinking security professionals are now realizing that comprehensive plans must include gunshot detection technology.

The Power to Locate Empowers First Responders

Gunfire detection technology provides indoor building coverage in the event of an active shooter attack. When a gun is fired, that loud explosive noise triggers a network of sensors, cameras, or even both, which instantly send summary data about the acoustic event to a review center where acoustics experts review and classify the sound. Advanced technologies are able to detect and identify a full spectrum of threats, from subsonic and supersonic rounds to explosives.

If a gunfire attack is confirmed, an alert is sent to the building’s security operations center and local public safety dispatch within seconds, enabling responders to arrive on the scene quickly, possibly apprehend the shooter, aid victims, and collect crucial evidence. If cameras are part of your security set-up, active gunshot detection technology can even provide local police with video footage to help identify perpetrators and stop crimes in progress.

Gunshot location technology can be used in buildings of any size footprint, square footage, or number of floors. A wide area of incident detection means that shots fired and directed anywhere within the coverage range will register on the technology and trigger an alert.

In addition, gunshot detection technology offers valuable forensic evidence in the event of an attack. For example, systems can record audio snippets of gunfire incidents in real time and log the number of rounds fired and the location of one or more shooters in the building.

Finally, the technology is minimally intrusive to install. No on-premises equipment is required other than small, inconspicuous wall-mounted sensors or cameras; updates and support are delivered remotely and cloud-based systems don’t require any customer overhead to maintain.  Additionally, some gunshot detection systems are even designed to work with current building security systems and closed circuit surveillance cameras.

Saving Lives

The people who spend most of their waking hours inside of our buildings are entrusting us with their lives, and it is a building owner’s privilege and duty to protect them. Gunshot detection technology provides building security professionals with yet another advantage of precise, real-time situational awareness so that first responders can quickly become aware of, pinpoint, and respond to active shooter situations to save more lives. 

Theresa Marcroft is senior vice president of marketing at SST/ShotSpotter Inc., she can be reached at

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