STORY: Can artificial intelligence be used to spot an active shooter… before it’s too late?
This demo sequence shows how U.S.-based company Omnilert monitors security cameras to detect potential gun threats.
“…we can use those precious seconds and minutes to set into action an automated response plan, which could involve locking doors, setting off sirens, contacting the police with rich information.”
Omnilert CEO Dave Fraser.
“What is, has been remarkable about many active shooter situations is that the assailants are actually visible in security cameras for seconds and sometimes minutes. So you think about the situation in Parkland where the active shooter was caught on camera preparing in one of the stairwells. In situations like Tops Market, or in Uvalde, there's parking lots and lobby areas where the assailant was visible to security cameras.’’
When the technology identifies a threat, the system sends images of the shooter and their exact location to the emergency services.
Of the 17 million security cameras installed across the U.S., Fraser says that less than 1% of them are actively monitored.
“So we've introduced our technology that will do the monitoring of these security cameras, do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week...”
The FBI reported that there were 61 ‘active shooter’ incidents in the U.S. in 2021 – the highest tally in over 20 years.
In May 2022, 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas, in the deadliest school shooting in a decade.
President of National School Safety and Security Services and expert in K-12 school security Kenneth Trump, said that while new technology could be helpful in active shooter situations...
...the first and best line of defense should be well-trained school staff and students.
‘’But you need to make sure that we're investing in people and we're not seeing that. We're seeing a skewed focus on target hardening, getting people putting more and more money into bells, the whistles, the shiny objects that we can point to and tell parents, see, we've made your schools safer and we're spending less and less time on staff training, on prevention and recognizing the warning signs, on the human interactions... and problems are going to continue.’’
Sari Kaufman was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student killed 17 people.
Now at Yale, Kaufman says she still struggles to feel safe on campus…
and, in her opinion, it will take more than advancements in technology to solve the issue.
"I think a lot of times with these policies that are like increasing technology or having metal detectors, I think that it's focusing on the wrong piece of gun violence prevention in these shootings. It's focusing on a lot of reactive solutions rather than preventative. So, I think it's important to focus on advocacy and stopping it at the root cause of the problem, which is people who should not be having access to guns getting access to guns."