NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A junior at East High School was arrested Monday for carrying a gun on school property. Metro Police said a concerned student notified school administrators who then found a loaded 9mm handgun in the 11th-grader’s backpack.
As these types of incidents happen, companies are coming up with ways to detect weapons in schools faster.
Omnilert is a newer protection system that aims to save lives through rapid response and early threat detection. There are essentially four main actions that the platform performs; this includes visual gun detection using existing security cameras 24/7, inside or outside buildings.
If a gun is detected, the next action is verification. This can happen at an Omnilert monitoring center or by a school district or customer.
“Technology like this is, unfortunately, quite necessary today. Gun violence has been an ongoing pervasive issue; 2022 frankly, we saw what was the highest for schools in particular in terms of gun violence,” said Mark Franken, the vice president of marketing for Omnilert.
When the alert is confirmed by a person, an activation sequence goes into effect that can help to lock doors and alert police among other features.
“It’s using existing security infrastructure that’s already in place, but frankly is going unmonitored. There’s around 70 million cameras in the United States and only 1% of those are being watched live. They’re really being used for forensic purposes, so if something happens ‘let’s go look at the tape.’ This is a simple way to add software on top of that and turn something that’s forensic into something that could actually be preventive,” said Franken.
Franken said the system doesn’t necessarily have to see the entire gun to detect its presence, but only enough of the gun, like the barrel or the handle, to get a sense for what it is. The technology is still relatively new, and over the last couple of years Omnilert has spent time educating the market about its capabilities.
However, Franken said there was tremendous growth in the last 18 months in particular; over 300 schools and businesses currently use Omnilert.
“The one great advance that the visual technology is offering is we can now really protect spaces that were unprotected before, like exteriors of buildings. When we look at schools in particular, historically 70% of school shootings have actually occurred outside of the building,” Franken said.