Companies Install Gunshot Detectors in Offices, Factories

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Corporate executives worried about workplace shootings are installing gunfire-detection systems in offices and factories. Most don’t tell employees what the sensors are, for fear of alarming them, the Wall Street Journal reports. The uptick in adoption of gunshot sensors follows a wave of workplace shootings. The latest occurred Friday when a man opened fire at an Aurora, Il., factory after his termination, killing five co-workers and injuring five police officers. Deadly incidents in recent months include shootings at the California headquarters of YouTube, in the lobby of Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati, at a Maryland newspaper and in a Florida hot-yoga studio. Shootings are “so frequent now, people are starting to accept it,” said Brink Fidler, who spent nearly two decades in law enforcement in Nashville and runs an active-shooter training company, Defend Systems. “The more often these happen…the more people you have going, ‘We have to do something.’ ”

Rackspace, a cloud computing company in San Antonio, installed 150 gunshot-detection sensors around its cavernous office in a converted shopping mall. “You can’t install metal detectors at the doors and have guards patting people down,” said the firm’s Mark Terry,  “So what’s the next best thing?” The sensors blend in to walls and the ceiling, and look similar to fire-safety equipment. “I’ve told people they’re air-quality sensors before and they don’t even second guess it,” Terry said. Developed for the battlefield, many sensors use acoustic and infrared technology to “see” the flash of a gunshot while also hearing it. The systems can be wired to alert police and instantly send texts, calls and desktop notifications to employees, flashing messages to tell workers how to respond in an emergency.

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