Gibson Southern High School in Fort Branch, Ind., serves more than 700 students. Like most schools, emergency response plans are a top priority. Gibson Southern was looking to increase overall safety in case of emergency situations, like active-shooter events or other external threats. With a large physical campus footprint, Gibson Southern needed a security system for after-hours intrusion, managed access control, and video surveillance inside and outdoors. With the assistance of Sonitrol of Evansville, the school selected Sonitrol’s new Gunshot Detection Solution, a self-contained device that uses concussive force recognition sensors to detect gunshots.

Chris Dingman, operations manager at Sonitrol of Evansville, which includes Sonitrol of Muncie and Sonitrol of Polk County, had received inquiries from several area schools, including Gibson Southern School Corporation, about gunshot detection technology and what systems were currently available.

“Sonitrol of Evansville is represented on the Sonitrol Next 50 council, where new products are discussed and worked into the Sonitrol portfolio,” he said. “Being on the council gives us opportunities to beta test products and work closely with the manufacturer and product experts. We were given the opportunity to be a test site for the gunshot detector and contacted the resource officer at Gibson Southern High School to see if they would like to work with us as a test location.”

One of the reasons why Sonitrol of Evansville chose Gibson Southern as its initial install site for the new gunshot detection product was because the school already had a Sonitrol FlexIP control panel with audio detection and Sonavision cameras, monitored in Sonitrol’s UL listed central station in Evansville. “Our desire with the gunshot detector is to give responding officers to an active shooting the best possible information with where the situation is happening and what any suspects may be wearing and how many,” Dingman said. “We want to be eyes and ears of the situation and help to resolve it as quickly as possible.”

Dan Lienemann, school resource officer at Gibson Southern High School, said, “We did not know about the availability of these devices, so when Sonitrol approached us about gunshot detection, we said, ‘Yes, let’s add this to our school.’ We met with Sonitrol staff and together we decided to install one unit in the school’s front entryway, one in the cafeteria and one up in the academic hall.”

Rather than utilizing microphones, infrared sensors or complex analytics, Sonitrol’s Gunshot Detection Solution is a self-contained device that relies on affordable, simple concussive force recognition sensors to detect gunshots. When a gun is fired, the bullet creates a shockwave as it exits the barrel of the gun and travels through the air. This shockwave creates a unique concussive force that the gunshot detection system can detect, reducing the potential for false activations from other loud noises.

The product also features a reliable dry contact that allows it to be easily integrated into the existing Sonitrol security system.

If a gunshot is detected at Gibson Southern, the alarm is sent to Sonitrol’s central station, which monitors the school, giving them insight as to where a gunshot was fired. This then gives the proper authorities crucial inside information they normally wouldn’t know.

The alarm can also activate the system’s audio sensors and video feeds so operators can verify where threats are taking place. At the same time, access control integration can enable automatic lockdown at the school, making it more difficult for a shooter to move around. Intrusion alarms can automatically generate an alert, enabling a faster, more accurate response. With a detection radius of 75 feet and 360-degree coverage, the device offers 15,000 cubic feet of coverage. The solution minimizes the number of gunshot detection devices required, allowing for affordable coverage with no need for software, servers or relay control boards.

During installation, Sonitrol of Evansville had representatives from the manufacturer and developer on site to assist in determining the best locations for the devices for optimum coverage. “Technicians determined that the initial way to wire the device was difficult and could cause issues with service and troubleshooting,” Dingman said. “The gunshot detector designer was able to rework the wiring harness to have a pigtail outside of the device to make it more accessible and easier to wire up.”

The installation of the four gunshot detectors took a day to complete. The integrator installed the devices in high-traffic areas where people may gather. “Having the product developer there helped fine tune and make sure the settings were correct as well,” he added.

Dingman reports having a good response from the school. “We have not had false alarms with the device,” he said. “Being at a high school means lockers are closing, bells going off between periods and just kids in general. We weren’t sure what type of activity we would get on the detectors, but we have only gotten alarms when we have expected to get alarms, and with the audio and video verification we have installed at the school we expect that to remain the same.”