The AI Approach: Active Shooter Detection & Prevention
Here's how AI plays a key role in proactively detecting — and even preventing — active shootings.
Rachel Heller, Content Marketing Manager

This is the first blog in our series about AI’s impact on mitigating active shooter incidents.


Ensuring the safety and security of our communities has never been more critical; in recent years, the annual number of active shootings in the US has been on a steady upward incline. The threat of active shooter incidents looms large, and the need for proactive early detection and prevention is paramount. 

It’s not enough to react after an incident occurs. Your physical security team must be proactive in their approach to protect lives and prevent crises from escalating to devastating proportions. 

We’ll explore how AI technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing security strategies, revolutionizing the way we safeguard our communities, and ultimately averting tragedy.


You need proactive early detection and prevention. Here’s why:

70% of active shooter incidents last 5 minutes or less. When detecting and preventing these crises, every second matters. However, security teams often overlook significant early warning signs that occur many minutes before the first shot is even fired.

The shooter may be jumping over a fence, brandishing their weapon and loading up ammunition in the parking lot, or loitering outside in a restricted zone, all before entering the building. Imagine how differently prior active shooter incidents might’ve transpired if security teams had the ability to detect and respond to these early threat indicators.

For the safety of your community, a better solution is here: today’s advanced, AI-powered technology makes true early detection and prevention of active shooter incidents a reality.


Vulnerabilities in traditional active shooter prevention

84% of shooting incidents start outside. Early detection provides time for organizations to follow the appropriate procedures to secure the perimeter and safeguard their communities from the threat. Without a proactive approach, teams jeopardize critical time in their response and must react after the incident escalates. 

Ultimately, fortifying your organization with airport-style metal detectors and only securing entrances isn’t enough. Timely and intelligent early detection is crucial in mitigating active shooter incidents. 

The vulnerabilities in today’s traditional security methods cannot stand:

  • Gun detection happens too late: With some traditional tools and detection systems, guns aren’t detected until they’re very obviously in view. This overlooks all of the moments where the weapon was partially concealed, obscured in a crowd, or brandished at a distance on the surveillance feed.
  • Early threat indicators go undetected: A perimeter breach, loitering, tailgating, and more are precursors that occur before a weapon is even brandished. Yet all too often, they evade detection. 
  • Overreliance on human monitoring: Due to human limitations, even the most skilled team of security operators can’t catch every single threat that arises across all surveillance feeds.
  • Limited situational awareness: Without full site visibility and a stream of real-time, contextualized information on evolving threats, it’s difficult to respond to incidents fast enough to avert escalation.
  • Technology with a narrow use case: Physical security technologies often serve very specific purposes, like detecting guns. With this, security teams find themselves having to purchase, implement, and integrate a wide range of technologies to mitigate all of the different types of incidents they may encounter.

Amid the limitations of traditional security methods, AI-driven technology emerges as a vital component of comprehensive and proactive active shooter prevention.
The Harker School using for gun detection

How AI improves active shooter detection and prevention

AI technology empowers security teams with a strong security posture and a holistic approach to mitigating active shooting incidents and reducing risk. Here’s how this works:


AI-powered firearm detection

It’s increasingly commonplace for organizations to have a plan of action in the event of an active shooter incident. But when tragedy strikes, even the most well-thought-out plans quickly spiral into chaos. 

That’s the importance of advanced, AI-powered firearm detection. Integrating AI with video surveillance technology, like’s gun detection, provides security teams with the peace of mind that if an active shooter approaches the premises, they will be detected with the speed and precision necessary for the team to effectively respond.

Ambient can accurately detect a person brandishing a weapon, such as a firearm or knife, in a crowd, partially concealed, and at a distance, ensuring that no threat slips through the cracks. Once the platform detects a weapon, it alerts your security team in seconds so you can automatically connect with first responders. To track all critical developments, Ambient detects both the perpetrator’s location and that of victims, such as injured individuals and large gatherings.

But ultimately, mitigating active shooter incidents doesn’t start and end at gun detection. The following components add up to create a holistic approach to proactive prevention. detecting a firearm with gun detection

Detection of early threat indicators

Once a weapon is drawn, every second matters. But by the time security personnel identify a gun, it may already be too late. That’s why security teams must couple gun detection with the detection of early warning signs for the fastest, most proactive response possible.

But here’s another hurdle: early visual indicators of threats, like perimeter breaches, happen in an instant, evading the detection of vigilant operators monitoring security cameras. Plus, there’s no guarantee that existing technology, such as access control systems, will detect these threats. 

This calls for a more advanced solution: AI. continuously monitors surveillance feeds to detect hard-to-spot behaviors that can be precursors for active shooter incidents. Security teams then receive real-time visual alerts of these early threats with the relevant surveillance clip for full context.

With an AI-powered solution in their arsenal, security teams can intervene before a gun is even spotted to prevent the situation from escalating.


Securing the perimeter

In light of several tragic incidents where mass shooters gained access to institutions through unlocked doors, perimeter security plays an increasingly vital role in active shooter prevention. AI applications effectively secure the physical perimeter, reducing unauthorized access and potential threats. AI continuously monitors for potential intrusions, ensuring that your perimeter is protected 24/7, 365 days a year.

In this sense, if you have an access control system, quickly responding to a verified “Door Forced Open” alarm could potentially save lives — but the current reality of PACS alarms complicates the situation. 95% of the 1000s of alarms generated from access control systems are false positives, distracting operators from legitimate incidents. 

How can you ensure that your perimeter is truly secure in the case of an active shooter incident if your security team is constantly inundated with high volumes of false alarms?

Once again, AI emerges as a critical solution. automatically verifies and clears PACS alarms to significantly reduce the volume of non-actionable alarms and surface verified incidents. This way, your security team can focus on legitimate perimeter threats, ready to respond to potentially life-threatening alarms.  

What your active shooter prevention strategy is missing

The rise in active shooter incidents in recent years demands that organizations everywhere take proactive steps to safeguard their communities from gun-related violence. The right approach can prevent tragedy.

AI technology is the missing piece in your active shooter prevention strategy. Incorporating AI into your physical security infrastructure makes your environment safer, your responses swifter, and your communities better protected from the devastating impact of active shooter incidents.

Join us for our upcoming webinar to learn more about how AI can mitigate and save lives during active shooting episodes.

Rachel Heller, Content Marketing Manager