How Technologies Help Mitigate Gun Violence
Gun violence is an important worldwide problem, resulting in more than 500 deaths and 2,000 nonfatal injuries every day. By the number of shooting incidents, the US is a global outlier. Its gun death rate is 13 times higher compared to other high-income countries and is estimated at over 110 people killed and more than 200 others wounded each day. This high death and injury tolls are closely related to the highest reported rate of firearm ownership. According to Everytown’s research, Americans own 46% of the world’s civilian-owned firearms. Gun violence in America has become a public health epidemic. 58 percent of the American population reported experiencing some form of gun violence in their lifetime. It is a burning issue which doesn’t show any signs of easing.
On the contrary, the past few years have seen a rise in gun violence. In 2022, Gun Violence Archive counted 647 mass shootings, of which 21 involved five or more fatalities. By mid-September 2023, the United States had already experienced 500 mass shootings. These staggering statistics show the current ineffectiveness of gun laws in the USA and highlight the need to search for new potential solutions to address gun violence.
In this article, we’ll explore gun detection systems which have become quite common in recent years. They are being increasingly adopted by law enforcement agencies. Organizations, institutions, government agencies, and public venues also turn to technologies looking for ways to upgrade and modernize their security in an effort to protect people from potential threats. Given the increasing incidences of shootings at schools, universities, and hospitals and other public places and advances in gun detection technologies, Homeland Security Research Corporation anticipates that the market for weapons detection systems will continue to grow and will reach $11 billion by 2025.
What technologies are currently used to detect guns? What are the advantages and weaknesses of different gun detection systems?
Concealed weapon detection systems
Concealed weapon detection systems use multiple sensors to both detect and identify threats like handguns, shotguns, and rifles when a person walks through the metal detector or is screened with the help of handheld magnetometers capable of detecting changes in local magnetic fields.
The main advantage of such systems is that they actually help security staff identify concealed weapons and stop the perpetrators before a single shot is fired, ultimately keeping people and assets safe. However, the range of use of this technology is rather limited. Physical barriers are typically installed in office buildings and airports to screen visitors at entry and exit points. They require specialized staff and training and are quite expensive to install and maintain. Besides, such screening processes can cause inconvenience to visitors and adversely affect their experience.
Intelligent detection systems that use advanced sensors and artificial intelligence make gun detection less obtrusive, faster and more effective. Such systems can easily distinguish between threats and everyday items like a cellphone, coins or keys. So visitors don’t have to empty their pockets.
In general, concealed weapon detection systems market is expected to remain highly promising, growing from $706.7 million in 2023 to $2,281.2 million by 2033. The demand for weapon detection system is anticipated to rise at a CAGR of 12.4%.
Gunshot detection systems
The gunshot detection technology uses microphones and algorithms to detect and record gunshots, determine the location of gunfire and alert law enforcement.
Microphones are mounted around the defined area, usually on buildings, streetlights, or other elevated structures. They are tuned to be always listening to the sounds of gunshots. When a loud bang is detected, the system analyses the sound and, if it is recognized as a gunshot, sends it to a human analyst who verifies the signal and makes the final decision on whether to dispatch the police to the scene or not. The system also sends the approximate location of the incident, the exact time and the number of shots fired. All the process takes under 60 seconds, which is usually more quickly and accurately than relying on witnesses who overheard gun fire. Due to gunshot detection systems, law enforcement and other security organizations get the opportunity to learn about incidences of gunshots within seconds of the shot being fired, locate a shooter and apprehend them. Given that many gunshots are often left unreported, such systems can become an effective tool for the police to be aware of the threat and respond to it faster. They can come in handy, especially in the areas suffering from high levels of gun violence. As the National Institute of Justice found, it has a deterrent effect, thus helping prevent such incidents.
Gunshot detection is considered to play a pivotal role in improving the civilian security services and is therefore being adopted by diverse cities across the US, the UK, and others. According to ResearchAndMarkets, the global market for Gunshot Detection System estimated at US$681 million in 2022 is projected to reach $1.1 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6.7%.
Of the shortcomings, we should note that gunshot detection technologies only work after incidents have already happened and provide the approximate location of the fire shot. Besides, it’s often difficult to tell whether the sound recorded by the machine is a gunshot indeed, but not a car backfires, firecrackers, or something else resembling the sound of a gun fire. For the most part, accuracy of detection depends on acoustic experts, who have to review alerts and verify whether they are true threats or not.
Another downside is cost. Acoustic gunshot systems can cover large areas, but they are too expensive for the police to roll out across all the city. They can also be difficult to install, maintain and expand.
The use of acoustic detection systems has also raised privacy concerns. With microphones running and recording all the time, gunshot detection systems can overhear and record the conversations of unsuspecting people on the street and in other public places.
AI-powered visual gun detection
These solutions utilize AI and computer vision to detect firearms. They integrate into existing CCTV or traditional surveillance camera systems and are therefore worth deploying in areas that are already equipped with cameras, like large venues, school campuses, shopping malls, airports and other public places. Integration with advanced AI solutions enables reliable detection and identification of weapons, as well as alerting first responders to a threat.
Once a potential active shooter situation is detected on video streams, the system sends an alert, providing security personnel with all the information necessary for swift action to be taken to prevent any potential harm. If these solutions include features such as facial recognition, it makes it possible for law enforcement to identify perpetrators. Besides, the system can be configured to trigger automated pre-defined safety protocols and even lock the area down if it is verified by appointed personnel.
The most valuable benefit of using video-based AI solutions is the real-time information it can provide on active shooters. That is, images of the shooter as well as precise details about the weapon, time, and location of the event. The system also tracks the movement of a perpetrator within the facility, providing the security team and law enforcement forces with full situational awareness. Thus, the combination of a visual detection approach and the power of artificial intelligence gives security teams the advantage of advance warning before a shot is even fired and enables them to proactively respond to a threat.
One more advantage is the combination of low cost and wide-area coverage. AI-powered gun detection solutions integrate with existing video surveillance systems, which reduces costs and makes these technological tools affordable for organizations of all sizes and complexities. At the same time, they utilize advanced technologies that show high performance and unparalleled accuracy. The leader on the market is Scylla Gun Detection System, which shows impressive accuracy with 0.1 false-positive rate per day per camera. Scylla can seamlessly integrate with existing security infrastructure and transform it into a proactive surveillance system, effectively helping automate response and improve situational awareness.
Leveraging technologies for weapon detection alone will definitely not solve the problem of gun violence in the country, but they can really assist security personnel and law enforcement to minimize harm and even prevent potential threats especially when robust AI-powered video analytics is utilized. The solution to the problem requires a wholistic approach: changing attitudes toward gun ownership, improving public health, implementing strict gun control policies, and supporting community-based initiatives that prevent, interrupt, and reduce violence.
The growing threat of gun violence calls for urgent actions and implementation of safety solutions. Security experts and first responders need technological tools that can help prevent and respond to active shooting. Nowadays, gun detection technologies step in to meet the challenge. If deployed, any of them can help improve identification of potential issues and save people’s lives. However, AI-powered visual gun detection stands out, as it aims to proactively protect people and prevent a dangerous situation from escalating.
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