Acoustic Gunshot Detection vs. Visual Gun Detection

by | Feb 1, 2022

As the old adage goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. This is true in many cases, especially when it comes to security planning. Consider security in earlier times – it was incredibly elementary and focused primarily on physical security (usually only one layer, such as a locked door/gate). Once that single layer of security was breached, the perpetrator succeeded.

Now we have more options. Homeowners, businesses, and schools need to continuously revise their current security infrastructure and determine where improvements can be made in order to lay claim to a truly robust multi-layer security ecosystem.

Proactive vs. Reactive Security

Consider what kind of home you would feel most safe in. Would this home have doors with no locks? Probably not, and with that level of milquetoast security, surely nothing will prevent an intruder from entering your home. Sure, you can call the police but that is a reactive response.

Unfortunately, that is not a top-tier solution to prevent yourself from being burglarized or worse…as “only 13% of home invasions result in a conviction”, and the odds of recovering your personal items are next to none.

A combination of handle and deadbolt locks are a great proactive line of defense against intruders as they delay (or completely deter) burglars from entering your home. Let’s take it a step further, though. What about security cameras and an alarm system to alert you when there is a break-in attempt? Research shows that installing a security camera makes your home, on average, 300% safer from break-ins than homes without.

Additional security measures like glass-break sensors, floor-mounted door stoppers, internal and external cameras, motion detectors, and flood lamps are all incredible options to proactively protect a home and provide much more security than simple door locks.

Now, think for a moment that someone is outside of your home with a gun. Wouldn’t you prefer to have a proactive solution to recognize them immediately as a threat? Or would you rather wait up to an hour for the police to arrive?

Acoustic Gunshot Detection vs. Visual Gun Detection

This side-by-side comparison shows why visual gun detection is a better security approach to prevent shootings.

There are a number of security options that exist to provide situational awareness regarding gun detection, but many of these options are after the fact —  i.e. reactive instead of proactive.

For instance, acoustic gunshot detection is a solution that has become increasingly popular over the last decade or so. They advertise the capability of recognizing a gunshot(s) by its acoustic signature. After it registers the sound of a gunshot, it triangulates its origin by measuring the time-lapse of the reverberations of the gunshot itself.

While it does seem to assist in detecting gunshots and alerting law enforcement accordingly, this form of gun detection is another reactive solution and the cost of these after-the-fact solutions can very well surpass 100,000 dollars annually. Furthermore, examining reports into success rate unveils some other concerns.

Unlike ZeroEyes’ well-trained AI models (against both inaccuracies and biases), acoustic solutions toe the line of privacy infringements. Let’s go more in-depth on that: acoustic solutions act as more of an alert system that needs to be analyzed after the fact. This means that any private conversations that were co-located to where the suspected gunshot took place, are likely to be heard and/or recorded for later analysis.

Again, this presents privacy concerns, whereas ZeroEyes AI models are trained only to present an alert when it has determined an object as a firearm. Furthermore, the ZeroEyes solution places physical boundaries on said objects on the User Interface to avoid any environmental biases or mistakes.

This means that when there is an alert from the AI, ZeroEyes Analysts visually verify only that specific bordered portion of the image to determine whether the alert was a false positive or an alert that needs to be dispatched to First Responders.

Although ZeroEyes is an imagery tool that some would call a video analytic solution, we do not analyze after the fact. We proactively detect threats in real-time, before they escalate.

Here’s a breakdown of all of the things to consider when comparing acoustic gunshot detection to visual gun detection:

Proactive Security — acoustic gunshot detection only works after shots are fired. ZeroEyes’ AI gun detection software detects guns the second they appear in the camera’s line of sight, alerting security and first responders before shots are fired.

Minimal Startup Hardware — while acoustic gunshot detection systems require costly hardware to get started, ZeroEyes’ solution integrates into existing cameras and uses high-efficiency/low-cost servers to get up and running.

Low Cost — ZeroEyes’ AI gun detection solution is a low-cost security solution, averaging below $50 per camera per month compared to $65-90k per square mile per year for acoustic gunshot detection.

Protects Privacy — acoustic gunshot detection uses recorded audio that may include voices and private conversations. ZeroEyes’ solution only detects objects and doesn’t use speech or facial recognition, protecting privacy and liability.

Location Accuracy — acoustic gunshot detection gives the approximate area of where a gunshot was fired. ZeroEyes’ AI gun detection indicates the exact location, down to the camera’s geolocation, where a gun was detected and can follow the suspect’s movement.

Human Verification — while both acoustic gunshot detection systems and ZeroEyes’ visual AI gun detection use humans to verify threats, only ZeroEyes’ operations specialists are military-trained for high-pressure situations.

Overall, the majority of active shooter situations occur in commercial property and schools. A vital question we must ask ourselves is, do I want to wait until a tragedy strikes to implement greater security measures, leaving only the possibility of a reactive response? Or do I want to implement a proactive solution and Stop Threats at First Sight, not First Shot?

To school administrators, what is the value of your children and students, teachers, staff? To business and property owners, what value do you put on the lives of your customers and staff/personnel?

Adam Oehrle, an Operations Center Analyst and Drone Pilot for ZeroEyes, is a veteran who served four years active duty in the United States Air Force. During his time in the military, he completed an overseas tour and served as a Command and Control Battle Management Operations specialist under the Air Force’s Central Command (AFCENT) and the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM). After returning home, he completed various schooling that led to an associate’s degree focused on criminal justice and homeland security. Furthering his education, Adam obtained his Bachelors in Criminology; focused in Politics, and Sociology.

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