Technology’s Role in Active Shooter Prevention

How integrators can help to make response times faster and facilities safer

During World War I, engineers dug zigzagging patterns through the earth to prevent enemy soldiers from shooting in a straight line down the length of the trench – leaving relative few exposed to gunfire or shrapnel. Schools need to take the same design mindset.

One recent example is Fruitport High School in western Michigan, which embarked on a controversial $48 million construction retrofit project in August 2019 to add curved hallways to reduce an assailant’s line of sight. In addition, to the hallway areas, architects from Michigan-based firm TowerPinkster designed classrooms to provide cover and egress, including an area in each one that cannot be seen from the hallway. Each classroom also includes lockdown on demand and shelter-in-place areas.

Architects designed classrooms to provide cover and egress, including an area in each one that cannot be seen from the hallway.
Architects designed classrooms to provide cover and egress, including an area in each one that cannot be seen from the hallway.
Diagram: TowerPinkster
Critics claimed that Fruitport’s curving corridors could potentially slow police and SWAT teams in a dynamic entry; however, with more active assailants having large-capacity magazines, the necessity to slow the attack is paramount.

To prove the use of aggressive ingress, egress and shelter space architectural modifications will slow the attack, an assessment of the projected modifications will enable the security expert to virtually visit the modified facility at any time. One software provider, Visual Plan (http://visualplan.net) is bringing 3D technology to that process. Besides being easier and more cost-effective than traditional methods of measurement and facility mapping, the Visual Plan 360° capture software enables virtual collaboration, design, review, inspections and assessments, the company says on its website. It also allows various stakeholders to share, annotate and mark-up critical building information safely and remotely. In case of an emergency, the software also enables real-time collaboration with first responders.