by Peter Evans, CEO –
I read with great interest a recent article in USA Today regarding an alarming rise in mass shootings over the past year. Unfortunately, this week’s events confirmed the article’s point. The article explores the question of whether the 50% rise in mass shootings – which are now occurring at a pace of nine per week since the beginning of 2021 – are a function of the pandemic and lockdowns, social unrest and protests, or increasing gun sales, and whether a reduction in COVID-19 infection rates and the associated emotional impact of lockdowns will cause mass shootings to decline.
What the article failed to note is that, while the pandemic reduced or eliminated gatherings at concerts, stadiums, schools and other venues, mass shooting trends continue to increase. What this means is the pandemic has simply relocated the incidents from where people used to gather, to where they currently gather (retail stores, gas stations, in-home, etc.). With declining COVID rates, and the pent-up demand to “get back to normal,” we can unfortunately expect a relocation of incidents once again when the economy opens back up.
Innovation Shows the Way
Mitigating these types of incidents is complex and it will take many years for the larger societal issues to be addressed. Until that time, technology continues to progress and offers solutions for becoming more proactive and pre-emptive in nature to address these and other issues. Technology brings inherent qualities that outstrip traditional “human-reliant” approaches to complex contextual problems such as mass shootings, or other crimes. And when coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI), technology can scale massively, be available anywhere, always be on, and alert on abnormal behavior, patterns, objects, people and threats within seconds, or milli-seconds.
The same technology that has been used to fuel, for example, the evolution of the retail world that knows our preferences, our patterns, and our purchase interests, is available to intelligently detect weapons and risks from amongst the clutter of our environments.
Technology is much better than humans at identifying “needles in the haystack” in crowded settings – which makes it a force multiplier for security personnel. When a response is required, security personnel are “digitally briefed” in seconds, so they understand the risk situation before putting themselves into it. For example, today’s technology can detect weapons, their location, type, and the person carrying the weapon – all invaluable pieces of information for responding security personnel – before an event.
While the USA Today article poses the question about whether the accelerating trend in mass shootings will decline post-COVID, it offers no solutions to address what is an unacceptable problem pre- or post- COVID. The reality is that the trend has not changed, but in a complex world of rights, advocacy and security, a different approach to leverage innovation and provide pre-emptive risk management does exist. As with so many societal problems, technology innovation provides the path forward – allowing security professionals to be far more effective and pre-emptive, without violating traditional norms, policies or laws.