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What Is Visual Gun Detection & How Can It Help Prevent Gun Violence at Healthcare Facilities?

Blog Post
6 Minute Read

Jason Grellner Headshot
Jason Grellner
Vice President, Healthcare
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Publish date

Mar 22, 2024

It’s hard to ignore the constant news headlines of one mass shooting after another. In 2023, the Gun Violence Archive tallied 656 mass shootings in the United States, making it the year with the second-highest number of mass shootings over the past decade, following 2021. And then there are other incidents of gun violence that less commonly make the news, such as a shooting that stems from a dispute between individuals (as opposed to an active shooter targeting numerous people in a populated area).

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are no exception. Shootings have been reported at healthcare centers across the nation, which adds to the problem of workplace violence in the healthcare industry. (According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare and social service industries have the highest rates of injury from workplace violence. In fact, healthcare workers are five times as likely to suffer a workplace violence injury when compared to workers overall.)

While gun violence my not be as likely to occur as other forms of workplace violence in healthcare (such as a patient becoming physically aggressive with a nurse), it is a threat that deserves attention from healthcare security leaders.

Fortunately, there are steps that healthcare organizations can take to help identify brandished firearms early and help  prevent gun violence before it occurs. This is through visual gun detection, which is most effective when it is incorporated into a robust, video management system as part of a multi-layered security approach. In this post, we will explore what visual gun detection means today and how it can help healthcare organizations be proactive in keeping their premises and their people safer.

What Is Visual Gun Detection?

Visual gun detection is a solution that leverages artificial intelligence to help businesses and organizations detect brandished firearms on and around their premises through their surveillance camera systems. With solutions like Evolv Visual Gun Detection™, security cameras, whether inside or outside the facility, can proactively identify brandished firearms, providing immediate alerts to security professionals once a threat is detected.

For a hospital or other healthcare facility, this means the technology could provide early warning of someone brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime such as in the following types of settings under video surveillance:

  • In a parking lot or parking structure
  • In an open area outside the building, such as a courtyard or walkway
  • In a walkway leading to a building entrance
  • Inside the building or facility

Modern visual gun detection solutions are able to send real-time alerts and video footage to the appropriate parties (on-site security personnel, a third-party monitoring service, and/or local authorities), and they can integrate with the healthcare organization’s other security and emergency response systems, such as panic buttons and automatic-locking doors.

Why is A.I.-based visual gun detection a game changer for healthcare security?

Artificial intelligence does what humans simply cannot – it can watch all surveillance footage simultaneously, every second of the day, without being subject to fatigue, distraction, or bias. 

Even when organizations do assign security personnel to watch security cameras feeds around-the-clock (which is not really practical), this is not effective, as research shows that the accuracy and effectiveness of human video monitoring decreases as the number of cameras and the length of monitoring time increases.

  • Following 12 minutes of continuous video monitoring, an operator will likely overlook up to 45% of screen activity, and they will likely overlook up to 95% after 22 minutes. (Ainsworth, 2002)
  • Operators monitoring nine surveillance camera screens were only a little over 50% successful in detecting an specific item they were instructed to look for. (Wallace, et. al, 1997)

Healthcare organizations that use advanced technology to assist in their gun detection efforts are taking a proactive approach to identifying firearms on their properties and responding to potential incidents of gun violence at the earliest point possible. Many are turning their video management system from a purely reactionary system to a proactive device feeding real time intelligence to the people who need it. They are equipping their security teams with the tools and technology they need to help increase their speed and efficiency in responding to threats.

Why Visual Gun Detection Is Essential for a Multi-Layered Security Approach in Healthcare

Many hospitals and healthcare sites are already taking steps to detect firearms at their points of entry. This may be through a modern weapons detection system like Evolv Express®  that screens individuals while they walk into a facility at a natural pace, or it may be through a more traditional system like a metal detector.

However, these types of screening systems are specifically focused on detecting concealed weapons, and they are only used in specific areas of a facility – typically at points of entry.

But what about other areas outside and inside the facility? In active shooter incidents, the assailant may already be brandishing a firearm before entering the building, and they could use the weapon to force their way past security. Alternatively, internal co-worker threats, such as an employee who takes out a firearm after sneaking it in through an unsecured entrance to circumvent concealed weapons screening.

When healthcare organizations use visual gun detection technology in tandem with point-of-entry weapons screening systems, they add another layer of security that extends the area of coverage and helps to strengthen existing safety measures.

Additionally, when visual gun detection and weapons screening systems are integrated with other security technologies, important actions can be automated (such as panic alerts to local authorities, automatic locking of doors, and emergency mass notification), creating the potential for a more seamless emergency communication and response.

Evolv Visual Gun Detection™: Identify Firearm Threats at First Sight

With Evolv Visual Gun Detection, healthcare organizations can enhance security by leveraging A.I. on their security cameras to identify brandished firearms. When paired with Evolv Express, the combined solution provides multi-layered security at the threshold and beyond. This helps enable the “First Reactor” - the security professional stationed at entry or near an Evolv Express system – with the option to receive prompt alerts, featuring live annotated video of the detected threat and allowing for a rapid security response in seconds.

[Note: Include an image that shows the First Reactor tablet with footage of a suspect.]

With Evolv Visual Gun Detection, healthcare organizations get:

  • 24/7 A.I. monitoring of all selected surveillance cameras
  • Direct alerts to an on-site security teams and/or a third-party monitoring service
  • The ability to self-manage alerts through mobile, desktop, and the web
  • Early warning that can reduce reaction time, potentially leading to faster threat resolution
  • Enhanced situational awareness by providing security teams and law enforcement with important details such as the suspect’s appearance, the suspect’s location, and the type of weapon used
  • The ability to extend protected areas, adding another layer to the existing security posture
  • A system that integrates with video management systems and other security technologies

Employing AI-based video analytic solutions can help public safety and security specialists be a force multiplier in identifying and preventing tragedy on healthcare campuses.

If you are interested in providing an additional layer of security that can help keep your patients, visitors, and staff members safe from potential gun violence, learn more about Evolv’s Visual Gun Detection solution.

You can also register for our upcoming webinar, “Using Visual Gun Detection to Build a More Proactive Layered Security Plan,” which is taking place on April 3rd, 2024.

Evolv Visual Gun Detection Webinar

Visual Gun Detection Webinar

Jason Grellner Headshot
Jason Grellner
Vice President, Healthcare

Jason Grellner serves as Vice President of Healthcare for Evolv. Jason has an extensive history in the public safety sector, serving over 25 years as a police officer in Missouri. Over his tenure, he served as a Lieutenant and Narcotics Unit Commander and Coordinator and was also the Vice President of the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition representing 60,000 officers nationwide. Prior to joining Evolv, Jason had transitioned to the private sector where he was Executive Director of Public Safety for Mercy Healthcare with responsibility for the security of 42 Hospitals, 600 clinics, 76 retail pharmacies and 43,000 coworkers.  Jason holds a Bachelor of Criminology and Sociology from the University of Missouri.

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