SAN BRUNO, CA—The shooting at YouTube was indeed a wake-up call, occurring as many of Silicon Valley’s largest companies are pushing to make offices more accessible to the public. Facebook, for example, has detailed plans to expand its campus, however, these efforts seemingly contradict measures to add heightened security. Is this counter intuitive to a synergistic and collaborative work environment or is it a necessary measure to protect employees?
“The basic concept of security has changed with this higher level of violence,” Tim Tosta, partner, Arent Fox, tells GlobeSt.com. “The security used to start at the company lobby and now it is at the ground floor. Companies do risk-based analyses to determine the potential for physical harm and sense of urgency. The determination is often that it’s a smaller risk but when a shooting happens, it’s big news so it becomes a bigger issue. Then companies up the ante and other companies bump up security. This gets expensive and bothersome for employees. Plus, it’s hard to winnow out where these shooters are coming from.”
Tosta points to cameras and face recognition as methods for companies beefing up security. Others use active shooter training, TSA-style door screening, retina and fingerprint scans, and video analytics to analyze the behavior of guests in public spaces.
A sophisticated video analytics system could theoretically create a security alert based on abnormal behavior, although it would need accurate facial recognition capabilities as well, according to Internet of Things Institute. Another option would be to use video analytics with the intent of identifying weapons such as rifles that may be hidden in bags.
Hospitality operators are facing similar issues as office owners. Many hotels are exploring ways to lock down rooms simultaneously with the touch of a button in the event of an active shooter situation.
In the Mandalay Bay shooting, if smart building technology such as glass-break sensors were deployed in the room, those sensors could have sounded an alarm, enabling police to reach the shooter’s room more quickly. A growing number of tech devices come bundled with sound detection capabilities and some hotels such as Marriott are testing using Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo in hotels. In the future, it might be possible that a range of smart building technology could help listen for gunshots and automatically alert authorities, but this remains an abstract possibility at this point, says Internet of Things Institute. In addition, advanced gunshot detection implementations could determine the elevation of the shooter, the time the shooting began and the number of rounds fired.
In the future, cities could deploy comprehensive security systems leveraging smart city technology with a wide range of functionality. This could trigger an alarm to the public or hotel managers and enable say, streetlights, parking lot lights, city-mounted cameras and traffic systems to all work together. By turning off all of the lights in an area, for example, a shooter would no longer have the ability to aim at specific targets. Or, cameras would be able to focus solely on a shooter or alarms could trigger modifications in a smart city’s infrastructure. This would allow signals to open up traffic lanes, giving priority to first responders.
A forward-looking security strategy, however, will investigate not just how to thwart mass shootings, but seek to identify other potential types of attack, whether from explosives or hackers, and also consider who controls the technology designed to detect mass shootings.
“We shouldn’t have to live our lives this way,” Tosta tells GlobeSt.com. “This could go the wrong way.”