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7.3.23 – SSI – Joe Byron

Technology is available to help stop or lessen the damage done during active-shooter events. Five factors add up to make a compelling case.

Gun violence is a sensitive topic, yet one that necessitates conversation in an industry committed to preventing such risks. Recent statistics have highlighted that the risk is growing. The United States surpassed 150 mass shootings in 2023 by the first week of March — record time according to the Gun Violence Archive.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine, nearly all Americans are likely to know a victim of gun violence during their lifetime. These statistics are startling, leading to heightened concern across the nation.  

Weapons detection technologies must “see” a weapon and therefore cannot detect concealed firearms, and they also suffer from false detections. Metal detection technologies can be easily bypassed and are also prone to human error.

For security dealers and integrators, gunshot detection solutions offer customers a practical and reliable means of mitigating violence and harm to individuals.  

 Following are five reasons you should consider adding gunshot detection solutions to your product and service offerings.  

1. Mitigate Active-Shooter Events to Help Save Lives

When considering an investment in gunshot detection, end users need to understand the value of the technology. It is therefore the integrator’s responsibility to educate their customers on how gunshot detection can be applied to overcome current challenges experienced during an active shooter situation.

For example, without gunshot detection, law enforcement must use the limited and sometimes inaccurate information they receive about the incident to make educated estimates on where the shooter(s) is located. Moreover, clearing a building room by room is not only dangerous, but time consuming in a situation where seconds matter.   

Given that active-shooter situations evolve quickly, gunshot detection solutions work to deliver real-time, accurate gun violence location data to first responders during the critical moments after an incident.

Providing first responders with an accurate position helps them to diffuse the situation quicker, reducing response times and removing the human element from processes that require fast decision-making. Gunshot detection also allows EMT and other assets to be brought into secured environments more expeditiously  

As importantly, when gunshot detection is integrated with alarms or mass notification, the technology can provide building occupants with immediate notification of an incident. This will help remove uncertainty or confusion, enabling them to swiftly follow safety protocols and giving them their best chances to make lifesaving decisions in the face of a terrifying event.  

With gun violence on the rise, customers are searching for solutions that deliver value and clarity during times of extreme stress. Communicating the benefits of gunshot detection affords integrators the chance to meet these needs. 

2. Reduce False Alarms

Modern gunshot detection technology can also effectively eliminate false alarms that are both costly and disruptive. Best-in-class gunshot detection solutions provide the highest level of detection accuracy by utilizing dual-factor sensors. Single-factor sensors (e.g., concussive force, shockwave and microphone sensors) frequently misinterpret signals that are not gunshots. Dual-factor sensors employ a second sensor dedicated to measuring the infrared flash signal emitted when a gun is discharged to ensure the highest level of detection accuracy. In this way, much like dual-factor authentication utilized in access control, dual-factor sensors build trust in the technology while reducing costs related to false alarms.  

Detection accuracy is even more important when considering the cost of shutting down operations due to false alerts. Some businesses, such as manufacturing plants and airports for example, know their costs associated with a disruption to business continuity and can calculate their risks accordingly.

Canceling services in a hospital for even a short period of time could cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars, not including the intangible costs like occupant’s wellbeing and law enforcement-related activities.  

It is even more difficult for customers to conceptualize the psychological cost of a false alert until they experience one at their business or school. Frequent false alarms could even lead to alarm fatigue, causing those affected to respond inappropriately in times of true danger. 

3. Complement and Integrate With Other Security Solutions

Almost all available gunshot detection systems already provide a standalone means to communicate and display sensor data. But only next-gen solutions can seamlessly integrate this data with other security technologies. This includes video management systems, access control and mass notification systems. 

The benefit for end users is the ability to quickly deploy a new product without the confusion of learning a new system entirely. With multiple integrations available, customers have a choice in how they would like to receive and use their gunshot detection information.  

From the integrator perspective, introducing another level of complexity into an already difficult sales effort may prevent end users from adding gunshot detection to a bill of materials. Selecting gunshot detection from a trusted manufacturer with certified integrations reduces this risk and allows the integrator to focus more on working with the customer to develop and deliver a holistic security solution.

Furthermore, manufacturers that support multiple certified integrations can also provide important feedback regarding past projects, helping to build confidence with end users.  

Having multiple integration options available also provides integrators an opportunity to reengage with existing clients. For example, if a customer had a compatible VMS installed in the past, perhaps it is time for the integrator to revisit this customer and let them know their system could easily be upgraded to include accurate gunshot detection.  

According to the book “Marketing Metrics,” businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5% to 20%. Carrying a gunshot detection system allows the dealer to conduct a security assessment discussion from a new angle.

For example, did the client have a security audit performed recently? If so, what were the audit recommendations for an active shooter?   

Let gunshot detection be the proverbial foot back in the door for a holistic discussion about how to address multiple security threats while showcasing all available service offerings.  

4. Build Customer Confidence and Relationships

High-performance gunshot detection technology not only empowers dealers to revisit existing customers, it also positions you as thought leaders in the industry. End users value trust, competency, and guidance from their security suppliers and partners. Recommending proven methods to mitigate risk and potential harm to people like a holistic gunshot detection solution demonstrates proactive thinking.  

For example, many states have enacted versions of “Alyssa’s Law” to mandate the use of emergency messaging solutions in schools. Gunshot detection, when added to a proposal or BOM for video security or access control systems, signals to customers that a dealer is not only thinking ahead, but that they have invested internally to ensure that they have their finger on the pulse of the industry.  

You may find some customers hesitant to onboard gunshot detection due to an ‘it can’t happen here’ mentality or a fear that by publicizing gunshot detection’s use, organizations are openly recognizing the threat of gun violence on their campus. Dealers play a critical role in reducing this stigma by educating customers on the high frequency of gun violence incidents and the ways gunshot detection can help. Dealers should also encourage existing customers to engage in case studies and provide peer-to-peer references to help other customers gain trust in the technology. 

In most cases, a proven and trusted gunshot detection solutions supplier can help you develop customer relationships and reduce any concerns that the customer might have regarding how the information is being disclosed. Highly specialized sales and marketing teams are there to evaluate feedback from customers and develop communications that speak directly to a specific vertical. Dealers are encouraged to take full advantage of the marketing and communications resources offered by solution providers to better understand how to engage with their own customers surrounding this sensitive topic.  

5. Build Recurring Monthly Revenue

Lastly, gunshot detection solutions provide dealers and integrators with a new potential stream of RMR. In addition to the additional stream of revenue gained from sensor sales and monitoring contracts, much like fire and burglary alarm services, gunshot detection systems should be tested on an annual or semiannual basis, which presents the opportunity for incremental RMR. While many gunshot sensors report malfunctions or tampering immediately to their monitoring systems, a service agreement for periodic testing and/or maintenance contract should be a key component of any dealer’s sales agreement. 

By offering a maintenance and testing service agreement, dealers have another opportunity to check in with their customers, which creates additional opportunities to discuss new products and services. These types of service contracts provide added value to integrators in the form of additional RMR while offering their customers peace of mind when it comes to the longevity and effectiveness of their gunshot detection system. 

Additionally, periodic system testing and verification provides customers with a valuable reminder to review active shooter procedures to ensure that all facility occupants are familiar with emergency procedures and processes. Performing periodic tests is relatively easy and can be achieved with a handheld unit that tests each sensor without disrupting normal business operations. 

Gunshot Is a New Security Imperative

Gunshot detection is just one component in a comprehensive emergency response plan employing the “5 D’s” framework — Deter, Detect, Deny, Delay and Defend. Additional security layers, such secured entry solutions, video surveillance, guards and access control, all play a vital role in the overall fight against gun violence. Unfortunately, prevention is not always enough.  

As uncomfortable as the conversation may be, it’s important that security professionals remind their customers about the risks and mitigation solutions available to combat active shooter events. Fortunately, security integrators and dealers have world-class gunshot detection solutions available to offer their end users, while delivering value to both their customers and their business. 

Joe Byron is vice president of sales for Shooter Detection Systems.