A school shooting in Chardon.
A school shooting in Chardon.
The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
A movie theater shooting in Colorado.
These shootings have left first responders with a puzzling question: How can they reduce the carnage and deter a gunman from choosing these places to carry out their crimes?
The Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute decided it was a question that needed to be answered.
"The sooner law enforcement can be alerted and directed to the shooting location, and the more information they have as they respond, the more lives can be saved," said Edward Jopeck, the developer of Battelle's SiteGuard Active Shooter Response program.
According to the FBI, more than half of all shootings are over before police even arrive. To save lives, the victims must be alerted and must escape from the shooter's path faster, and police must have the information to neutralize the threat much sooner.
WBNS-10TV recently was granted exclusive access to see how Battelle's computer program works during a simulated active-shooter situation.
"It will actually provide a dot on the map for the current location of the shooter and as that shooter may move on and continue to shoot in other parts of the building the system automatically follows providing a bread crumb trail of gun shots," Jopeck said.
When shots are detected inside a school, mall or office building, the computer wakes up alerting a police dispatcher to send officers.
"That officer can go immediately to where he's needed first," Jopeck said about the possibilities.
The computer allows dispatchers to see exactly where the shooter is in the building, and using its gunshot-detection technology, it can detect the type of weapon used to inform police what kind of firepower they are up against.
Battelle has developed what can be described as super-sensitive ears that are placed inside a building similar to a smoke detector. These sensors are designed to distinguish between gunshots and other loud sounds, like the slamming of a door.
The technology also operates in real time. The computer program not only follows the gunmen via a building's security cameras, bit it also counts the number of shots and sends an audio alert through the building using its intercom system to let employees know they are in danger.
"So today, most schools and most government and office buildings are perfectly vulnerable to this type of attack," Jopeck said.
He believes the computer program could deter a gunman.
Authorities say the more they know about the gunmen, the better chance they can end a mass shooting sooner.
"When someone is shooting at people you know we can lose numerous lives within five, 10, seconds," said Deputy Chief Richard Bash of the Columbus Division of Police.
An active-shooter response program could reduce police response timesby 65 percent, Jopeck said.
"When targets are hardened, they become less vulnerable and therefore become less attractive targets," he said.
He said the system can change that advantage.
"The advantage police have is that they can go directly to where the shooter is without having to search door to door hallway to hallway," Jopeck said.
That's why Columbus police are intrigued.