Massachusetts school installs ‘Shooter Detection System’

Massachusetts school installs ‘Shooter Detection System’
A Shooter Detection System (SDS) - created with the help of the military and the first of its kind in the US – has been installed in an undisclosed Massachusetts school. The sensor can detect the sound of a gunshot, immediately alerting authorities.

The SDS was installed for free as a pilot program, and had its first demonstration on Veteran’s Day. During a simulated exercise, a “gunman” entered the school with an assault rifle and opened fire using blank ammunition in the school library, in hallways and classrooms.

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The shots triggered the smoke-alarm sized sensors installed in classrooms, hallways and other points in the building, which alerted police, calling for a coordinated response via radio. An audience of nearly 100, including US Rep Niki Tsongas and police chiefs from across the region, watched as circles pinpointed the shots on a floor plan projected in the schools’ auditorium.

"It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure our schools are sanctuaries for learning," Tsongas told Reuters ahead of the demonstration. "From Columbine to Sandy Hook, unspeakable acts of violence have occurred in our schools, and gun violence is now a major concern for our children, our educators and our parents."

A shattered window at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is pictured in this evidence photo released by the Connecticut State Police. (Reuters/Connecticut State Police)

The technology could help to a catch a gunman if the horrible threat ever strikes. Twenty children and six adults were shot to death the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. Analysis by CNN for the past 18 months shows there have been 15 similar incidents to Sandy Hook – one such school shooting every five weeks.

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“It’s amazing, the short, split-second amount of time from identification of the shot to transmission of the message,” Police Chief Joseph Solomon told AP. “It changes the whole game. Without the shot detection system, we wouldn’t know what was going on in the school … Valuable, valuable time can be lost. Unfortunately, with school crisis situations, it’s about mitigating loss.”

The system includes an outdoor acoustic system and 50 to 60 smoke-detector-sized sensors installed in hallways, and classrooms with infrared cameras to detect muzzle flashes.

The SDS was originally manufactured for military use in war zones. The manufacturer, Shooter Detection Systems, worked with the US Department of Defense research agency, DARPA, and Raytheon to create the SDS. Similar systems are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CEO Christian Connors told Reuters, “The system was the first of its kind in the country, and the company was talking to the federal government about its wider use. The system costs $20,000 to $100,000.”

Other schools in California and Virginia, as well as an airport “will soon install the system as well,” said Connors.