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Malls: The Next Charlie Hebdo?

Going to the mall is normally a fun activity, especially if you have some Christmas gift cards to use or a healthy tax refund to spend. It’s a place where teenagers hang out with friends or where families spend the day shopping, snacking and maybe taking in a quick movie. If you’re like me, it’s a place where you go with your wife to check out a bargain offers (artfully marketed to my mobile phone) and spend some time indoors when the weather outside is frigid.
But, increasingly, it is becoming a place where people are at risk.

Be it a teenager shooting in Pennsyvania or the terrorist recorded video promising a mass shooting at Mall of America in Minnesota, the threat of a shooting in a place meant for fun is unnerving. The risk has become so prominent in fact that both Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, have both addressed the likelihood of a shooting event in the past week. Calls for vigilance and additional security make perfect sense, however I’m skeptical that more billy-club carrying mall cops are the answer. Even more video cameras aren’t very helpful, as they can really only tell you what happened after the fact. There’s virtually no way to prevent the occurrence, short of turning every mall entrance into TSA checkpoint, and nobody wants that.

So, what can be done? We can implement common-sense active shooter mitigation technology, like ShotSpotter SiteSecure, an indoor and outdoor gunshot detection and alerting system by ShotSpotter, the world leader in gunshot detection, location and analysis. Functionally an active shooter alarm system, when ShotSpotter SiteSecure is deployed in a mall (or other building/campus environment), it would automatically alert first responders when the first gunshot occurs, either inside the mall or in the parking lot. It will also identify the location of the gunshots and provide first responders with the precise location of the shooting on a floorplan of the building under attack, including a running update should the shooter continue moving on his spree. This saves time, and ultimately saves lives, by speeding critical information to the authorities who can address the shooter without the delay of waiting on a shopper or mall security guard to call 9-11. After all, when someone begins shooting, hysteria consumes the space, and people should be focusing on saving themselves and their families, not calling the police, especially when technology can do it for them.

Hopefully the day will never come when a terrorist or deranged person shoots in a mall. If it ever does, I’d hope the mall is protected with a product like ShotSpotter SiteSecure because then the teenagers and the families, and yes, the bargain-hunting husband too can be confident that help is on the way. Who knows, maybe the shooter will even be deterred by simply knowing that the mall is protected by ShotSpotter SiteSecure. Now that’s a bargain I’d gladly pay for.


March 01, 2015
By: Damaune Journey, VP, Security Solutions