Businesses Increasingly Buying Gunshot Detectors to Manage Potential Shooter Threats

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 19, 2019
Police responding to emergency

Businesses are reacting to news of workplace shootings not with metal detectors, which might alienate customers and employees, but rather with gunshot detectors, which previously were used primarily by the military to triangulate sniper locations, according to the Wall Street Journal. These sensors look very much like smoke detectors, and many building owners are content to let people keep mistaking them for smoke detectors, as knowledge about their presence is reported to make people nervous or, alternatively, to make them eager to test their accuracy. The sensors themselves use a combination of acoustic analysis and infrared cameras to detect the sounds of gunshots and determine their approximate location, which in turn allows building security to determine where a shooter is located. They can be wired to alert police and to send employees texts, calls and desktop notifications with information about how to respond to the emergency.

While the devices are not new, the Journal reported that companies have been buying them in growing numbers as more workplace shootings take place. Some known buyers of these sensors include Toyota, Allergen, and Constellation Brands (which makes Corona beer), and Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Shooter Detection Systems, the largest supplier of gunshot detectors, reported that sales increased by 400 percent in the past year alone. Schools have expressed interest in the devices as well, but they can be expensive for districts to buy, and so in response the Shooter Detection Systems plans to market a package of sensors that costs $10,000. 

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