Schools and Gun Violence: The Case for Affordable GSL Technology

Schools and Gun Violence: The Case for Affordable GSL Technology
Mar 19, 2018

On April 16, 2007, six students crawled through classroom windows, injuring themselves on jagged shards of glass and braving hard falls to get to safety. They were lucky survivors of the worst college shooting in U.S. history. Thirty-two of their professors, TAs, and fellow classmates lost their lives that day when a mentally ill Virginia Tech senior extinguished bright futures and created grieving families in their place.

The Virginia Tech massacre was a watershed event, notable for spurring the only federal gun control legislation passed since 1994.  The massacre sparked the first of many fierce national dialogues about mental illness, gun access, and the roles schools play during such crises. Could administrators have done more to reduce the number of casualties? Could law enforcement have responded faster? In 2007, gunshot detection technology, which can reduce casualty counts, was still in its infancy, cost-prohibitive and inaccurate. Today with AI-driven, affordable options available, communities do not have to compromise on public safety.

Typically getting a budget approved for improving school infrastructure can be a daunting process. Proponents have to make the case that bringing new technology will enhance student’s quality of life in a realistic way. Those innovations have to prove far more effective and worthwhile than existing solutions. San Jose State University did the due diligence and opened the door to a more accurate and cost-effective new system.

The campus sits in the middle of an urban downtown, making it easily accessible to outsiders.

“Typically criminals are not students. It’s people who come onto campus,” said Alan Cavallo, San Jose State University Police Captain. “Our main objective is to create a safe learning environment for our students and a safe working environment for our staff.”

But the university police department was faced with a challenging task. It had 30 officers responsible for protecting two campuses that take up 19 city blocks. They also staffed over 200 special events each year that draw around half a million attendees.

They needed a solution to cover vast spaces, and they needed something that would help officers respond rapidly to gunfire because fast response-time is critical in a life threating situation. In V5 Systems’ Acoustic Gunshot Sensor (V5 GSL Sensor), they found a turnkey solution.

GSL Technology Helps Save Lives, But At What Cost?

Traditional gunshot detection can cost $65,000-$90,000 per square mile, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars more for people to monitor and verify. In turn, colleges could end up spending millions of dollars for technology that is often ineffective. Problems with traditional gunshot detection technology include:

  • Problems with accuracy and high volume of false positives
  • Latency in detecting gunshots when milliseconds count in saving lives

With such ineffectiveness, it’s hard to validate the high cost of traditional solution.

Finding an Affordable and Effective Solution

But there is new hope for universities looking to protect their campuses in active shooter events.

The V5 Acoustic Gunshot Sensor (V5 GSL Sensor) is a cost-effective gunshot detection solution that provides better accuracy, flexibility and faster notifications than legacy GSL solutions. The wireless, portable and self-powered device continuously monitors, detects and localizes the source of gunfire and provides real-time location information for each gunshot event.

V5 GSL Sensor Reduces:

  • Alert times and cost of monitoring with edge computing
  • Cost due to the system being completely free from the electric grid
  • False alerts with artificial intelligence software

Universities can use the V5 GSL Sensor as a standalone gunshot detection solution or combine it with video surveillance to add visual security monitoring, which is how San Jose State University is implementing the solution.

With key benefits such as flexibility and better accuracy, it is more cost-effective for universities, which can get a meaningful ROI with this technology.


V5 GSL Sensor Deployed at SJSU

#1 Intelligent Monitoring Drives Down Costs and Response Time

Traditional GSL solutions use human monitoring to validate gunshots once they’re detected, and then law enforcement is notified about the location. It takes at least 30 seconds before police are notified; in some cases, it has been known to take up to seven minutes.

Our technology cuts response times drastically by eliminating the middleman. Using edge computing, V5 GSL Sensor validates and locates gunfire in real-time at the edge (on the device itself) within milliseconds rather than sending data to a backend server and waiting for human verification.

By reducing human intervention, our AI-driven technology avoids latency issues with human monitoring. Saving seconds not only saves lives, but also eliminates the high cost of human verification.

Google Map pinpointing Gunshot      Live video after gunshot


#2 Portability Means No Unnecessary Spending on Infrastructure

One of the problems San Jose State University faced was the lack of infrastructure in areas that needed monitoring. Because the V5 GSL Sensor is a portable, self-powered device, it can be mounted to a tree or pole without tapping into electrical wires.

“With V5, we’re able to install the solution wherever we need it quickly and easily,” said Michael Cook, Director of Customer Service and IT at San Jose State University. “Traditionally, you’d have to do trenching, go install power, go install cable and wiring. V5 allows us to place the [security technology] wherever we want. As long as there is sunlight and as long as we can connect to a cellular network or our own Wi-Fi, V5 is going to work. It’s a very flexible solution that we can place anywhere on our campus.”

Because SJSU has over 200 special events annually, it has security needs in different areas. The V5 GSL Sensor’s portability allows their security team to easily redeploy it.

#3 Artificial Intelligence Eliminates Costly False Positives

One of the main problems police departments experience with traditional GSL solutions is a high false positive rate. The accuracy of detecting gunshots is approximately 25 percent, which means law enforcement units are dispatched to locations for false alarms 75 percent of the time. Some cities even found traditional solutions to be only 16 percent accurate.

Responding to false positives wastes police resources, which is particularly problematic if you have a limited university police force.

The V5 GSL Sensor is more than 90 percent accurate once acclimated to it’s environment at both pinpointing the exact location shots are fired and verifying that the sound is actually gunfire. Artificial intelligence-based machine learning means detection improves accuracy rapidly and in perpetuity, so it can recognize and differentiate sounds common to the area, such as a backfiring car or construction noise, and drastically reduce the rate of false positive.

“I think as we work with V5, the technology will only get better in aiding us,” Cavallo said.

Better Technology, Better Value

When it comes to gun violence on your campus, you can’t afford technology that is inaccurate and has issues with latency and false positives. All those issues can put lives a risk and add hidden costs to already expensive traditional gunshot detection solutions.

The V5 GSL Sensor provides the value of an accurate, flexible and fast solution at an affordable price. Creating a safe environment for your students and faculty is paramount, so the ROI on a meaningfully better technology is incalculable.


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