January 29, 2018 Don Martin

SDS Highlighted in National Geographic

The February 2018 issue of National Geographic’s cover story titled “The New Big Brother” highlighted SDS’ indoor gunshot detection device alongside other high tech devices used to investigate criminal activity, measure climate change, and more.

Shooter Detection Systems in Boston, Massachusetts, has invented a wall-mounted device designed to find an active shooter inside a building. The system uses acoustic software to identify the sound of gunshots and infrared muzzle-flash detectors to verify the shots and then automatically provides security officers with a map that shows their precise location.
Photo Credit: ROBERT CLARK for National Geographic

In late summer of 2017 SDS was contacted by National Geographic’s Senior Science Photo Editor Kurt Mutchler asking permission to include our indoor gunshot detection systems in an article on surveillance. After learning a bit more about the system – which doesn’t surveil in the typical sense since the sensor’s microphones do not pick up or record the human voice – Mutchler saw the value of including SDS’ technology to counter the potentially negative side of the surveillance debate.

The ALICE Training Institute reports that during an active shooter incident, a death occurs every 5-15 seconds. According to New York City Police Department (NYPD) statistics, 46 percent of active shooter incidents are ended by the application of force by police or security, and 40 percent end in the shooter’s suicide. By either method, the faster the shooting stops, the more lives are saved when seconds count. As the active shooter threat continues to dramatically rise, immediate detection and reporting of a shooting event stops the clock on the shooter. The Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System achieves this goal, with gunshot detection in under one second and with zero false alerts.

In September of 2017, National Geographic photographer Robert Clark arrived at the SDS Headquarters in Massachusetts set to capture the Guardian System at work. Hundreds of blank ammunition rounds were used in order for Clark to capture the shot that ultimately landed “on the fold” in the February 2018 print edition of the magazine.

The magazine’s cover story “The New Big Brother” features a thorough look at a wide range of surveillance technologies, including SDS’ Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System. Robert Draper’s article takes an in-depth look at the many sides of the debate over the worldwide increase in surveillance and its impact on privacy. For example, says Draper, the city of Houston has 900 CCTV cameras in operation at any given time and there are tens of thousands of drones in operation by hobbyists, businesses, and governments watching us all over the globe. The article points the increase in surveillance back to George Orwell’s predictions in his book 1984, where “Big Brother is watching you,” but Draper also asks “Does anyone doubt that a more closely inspected world over the past 150 years would have been a safer one?” For example, thanks to surveillance cameras, many crimes have been prevented by surveillance and major crimes committed have been solved, such as the 2005 London subway and 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

As the world leader in gunshot detection, we are thrilled to have been a part of the National Geographic conversation alongside the Cities of London, Houston, and Boston Homeland Security and leading technology innovators such as advanced satellite provider Planet Labs in San Francisco, California and cargo scanning developers Passport Systems, Inc. out of Billerica, Massachusetts.