As the frequency of mass shootings has grown, multiple incidents have shown the importance of locating an active shooter as quickly as possible. In scenarios like those that occurred in Parkland, Fla., Newtown, Conn., or Blacksburg, Va., a lack of information forced police to delay entering the buildings to neutralize the suspects. But a new technology, Safe Zone Gunfire Detection, is promising to change that by delivering critical information to law enforcement and building officials within seconds of a gun being fired.
Jackie Beatty, a retired Texas teacher who recently partnered with iWellness, a Fort Worth-area Safe Zone distributor, is leveraging her insider experience to be a powerful voice in the effort to help schools, churches, government buildings and other public venues save lives with Safe Zone. According to her, the gunfire detection solution can help teachers and students stay safe and escape dangerous situations, while also giving police second-by-second information on where the most recent shot was fired.
“When I started teaching more than 25 years ago, mass shootings were extremely rare and people didn’t talk about it much,” Beatty said. “Today, everyone in the country knows that a shooting can occur anywhere, at any time. It’s scary. While schools consider adding metal detectors, security guards, active shooter training and letting some teachers have guns, none of those tactics help teachers and students escape, or provide usable information to law enforcement.”
Safe Zone detectors are easily installed throughout existing buildings. Within seconds of a gun being fired, the detector sends the data to a cloud-based machine learning system, which analyzes more than 3,000 specific features of each gunshot.
Safe Zone then immediately sends the number of shots, type of weapon, caliber, and shot location (shown on a pre-programmed floor plan) to local law enforcement dispatch centers. At the same time, system users with the app receive an alert on their phones (similar to an Amber Alert), and teachers and others on a user-managed contact list receive an e-mail and/or text.
This series of events occurs in less than 10 seconds, informing law enforcement so they can move directly to neutralize the threat, saving valuable minutes. As the company is quick to point out, saving minutes saves lives.
According to Wes Stevens, a Safe Zone dealer working with Beatty in the Fort Worth, Texas area, the technology may do more to save lives than any other tactic, since it provides instant info to both police and people within the school.
“During an active shooter situation, there is simply no way to tell where the shooter is,” Stevens said. “How is a teacher supposed to lead 30-40 kids into a hallway to escape when they could run into the shooter at any time? Giving teachers up-to-the-second gunfire location info will save lives, period.”
The Safe Zone Gunfire Detector is a small (3” x 3”) triangular unit that mounts in a ceiling corner and provides gunfire detection for an area of 30’W x 30’D x 10’H. Safe Zone can be easily connected to third-party alarm, surveillance, door lock and mass notification systems.
“The system isn’t free, but it is a small cost considering the life-saving benefits Safe Zone provides,” Beatty said. “Actually, it’s the most cost-effective gunfire detection system on the market. In my opinion, any new school built from now on, and any existing school looking to improve security measures, should integrate Safe Zone as part of the design. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.”