Schools need faster emergency response technology. What’s the holdup?

Shooter Detection System sensors pick up a gunshot's acoustic and infrared signals, pinpoint the shot's location, and automatically alert law enforcement and first responders without the need for a 911 call, saving valuable time; the average 911 call takes 75 seconds from dialing to providing dispatch with enough information.

School shootings were at a record high in 2023, and this year isn’t shaping up to be any better. As psychologically burdensome the threat of its occurrence may be, they are usually over in an instant. In the 14 minutes it takes for someone to call 911 until an officer arrives, an average of 56 shots will have already been fired, potentially killing 14 and wounding more, according to the ALICE Training Institute, a security service dedicated to mitigating active shooter casualties.

Despite the swiftness with which these tragedies can occur, institutions have been slow to update their security systems, frustrating vendors who believe higher education leaders are letting practical campus solutions run right through their fingertips.

“It’s kind of weird to think that customers are buying a system they hope they never use,” says Kendra Noonan, the director of communications for Shooter Detection Systems, “but the forward-thinking ones know it’s going to be there if the worst happens.”

State legislators are introducing new security and safety funding to introduce new technology like sensors, cameras and AI-driven analytics that detect unusual activities or anomalies, said Karin Marquez, chief public safety brand officer at RapidSOS, an intelligent safety platform, according to However, the community is failing to see these changes. The 2023 K-12 School Safety Report by Motorola Solutions found that while 71% percent of teachers say their school has adopted new safety technology in the last two years, 54% of parents say they haven’t seen new technologies implemented.

Noonan believes burdensome bureaucratic pipelines, regulations and political plays are restricting federal money from reaching the most in-need districts. Despite Congress approving up to one billion in aid for K12 through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), only 38 districts had received any money in the following nine months Education Week reported on the topic.

“The federal government is setting the tone for the states on funding, but it’s really important for schools to recognize that shooting incidents aren’t going away and that they need a multi-layered approach,” says Noonan.

Noonan also believes that while institutions are rightly focused on preventing this kind of crisis through prevention methods like addressing mental health, mitigation technology is falling by the wayside. “I’ve always wondered why schools aren’t as interested as they should be. There is a mindset. Some law enforcement loves the technology while others think they have it handled and don’t necessarily think they need sophisticated security technology.”

Shooter Detection System sensors pick up a gunshot’s acoustic and infrared signals, pinpoint the shot’s location, and automatically alert law enforcement and first responders without the need for a 911 call, saving valuable time; the average 911 call takes 75 seconds from dialing to providing dispatch with enough information. Similarly, K12 districts and college campuses that use the SafeDefend Personnel Protection System automatically trigger law enforcement when clients attempt to gain access to an emergency storage kit in the event of an active shooter.

K12 districts aren’t alone in failing to improve emergency detection systems. The state of Michigan is mourning as it comes up on the first anniversary of the gunman who took three students’ lives at Michigan State University. While police arrived on the scene two minutes after the initial 911 call, it took 10 minutes for MSU to dispatch an emergency alert to campus community members. By that point, the shooter had already left his second shooting location and was leaving campus.

“These events are over so quickly that they need instantaneous alerts,” says Noonan.

After that tragic day, the community was promised several campus safety and security upgrades to address any faults or lapses in response time and effectiveness. However, the university is still behind on implementing some of the most vital measures it’s promised thus far, drawing concern from the community, the Detroit Free Press reports.

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Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a DA staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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