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Technology to protect a school

  1. Dec 15, 2012 #1


    Staff: Mentor

    Initially I thought what if the fire alarm had been pulled or what if the sprinkler system could have set off to make it more difficult for the shooter. This got me thinking what about fogging system to end visibility. Next would be a lockdown capability of hardened classroom doors.

    Other thoughts included a piercing sonic alarm or blinding flash system to render it more difficult to find and shoot that could be activated when a gunshot is heard.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2012 #2
    I like the concept, but you'd have to make sure that whatever methods you use will not hinder first responders (Police/Fire/EMS). I think this takes the fogging system out, but the others could be worked around.
  4. Dec 15, 2012 #3
    I would be interested in discussing building lock systems too. Most schools in my area you have to be buzzed in via a web cam looking at ya. Still I think it's too easy for someone to piggback in.

    I know in ships and subs are built with certain areas of the ship that can be locked down in case of a fire or flooding. As long as there is a way out for everyone maybe there could be automatic gates that lock away much of the school.
  5. Dec 15, 2012 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    We have technology today that can detect and pinpoint gunfire. Perhaps if it were tied to classroom door lockdown with hardened doors that would be an effective deterrent. If each classroom were equipped with tear gas that went off when a gunshot was fired nearby that would limit the shooters ability to shoot.

    In the latest case in Newtown, the shooter attacked the office first and the principal was able to activate the speaker system before she was killed a very brave act of courage. With a lockdown system that one act would have allowed the gunshot to reverberate thru the school and lock the doors.

    My feeling is that while gun control laws are important like limiting the sale of "cool" military style weapons favored by shooters. Perhaps we should sell only revolvers to the general public instead of glocks and sig sauers and eliminate the extended clips.

    In the case of background checks, it seems its flawed for so many reasons. The guns are bought by someone else or are stolen. The shooter exhibits no obvious indicators or if the y do people deem them as idle threats so the only solution remaining are technological deterrents as an a immediate remedy.

    Gun control won't help in the short term because there are so many weapons within easy reach. Debates on gun control will effectively bring so many other parties into the fray and nothing will get accomplished or the laws still won't solve the problem. There's real money at stake, there's the assault on personal freedom, there's the NRA unwilling to compromise or even be helpful in solving this problem., its not in their best interests.

    Another thought was the use of laser counter weapons to blind the shooter something the teachers could have in each classroom. Strong enough to temporarily blind the shooter. I thought this type of deterent could have been effective in the theatre shooting since it would upset his nightvision. The downside is that it makes you a target. Maybe something like a scancode laser zigging back and forth making the counter weapon cover a larger area.

    In WWII there was a similar weapons system for tanks known as the Coastal Defense tank where a carbon arc lamp and speakers were mounted on a tank for night attacks. Tank infantry would advance under the cover of these tanks while the enemy was blinded by the sight and sound.

    It was never used when it was discovered that flanking positions could pick off the tank infantry without being blinded and the position being attacked could counter with welders glass to see the attacking tanks. Early tests had shown that a gunner couldn't target the tank because the blinding light.

    I really hope we can come up with something here and present it to our legislators, school boards and state / local police and get past this gun problem we have.

    THANKS Greg for making this a separate thread!
  6. Dec 15, 2012 #5
    I don't think these particular ideas are good ones. Any indiscriminate area denial weapon is going to end up hindering a lot more than it helps, because if the attacker knows they are there, he is going to come prepared. A gas mask and a pair of sunglasses and now the innocents are far more hampered in efforts to hide or flee than the shooter in his effort to do harm.

    I do like the automatic gunfire detection, though pinpointing wouldn't work inside it wouldn't have to. Locking all the doors and alerting the school and authorities would be enough, as long as it were resistant enough to false alarms. CCTVs in the school would help first responders get a handle on the situation when they arrive and have secondary benefits as well WRT theft, vandalism, fights, etc.

    There are some things that any automatic response system needs to be designed around.

    1. It needs to hamper the attacker as much or more than the potential victims.
    2. Fire escape and rescue must not be hindered.
    3. False alarms must be low.

    I completely disagree with your position on guns in general, but that's probably a topic for another thread. I will say simply that the converse of the "no guns" position is true in all cases, while the position itself can only ever be true in most cases. If the principal had been armed and trained, there would probably only be one dead body on the news, not thirty.
  7. Dec 15, 2012 #6


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    No society can protect itself from people who don't buy into its values, or from people who don't even realize that there is such a thing as "society" and that it HAS values.

    IMO the real issue here is a matter of anthropology. The "interesting" fact to me is not that the US population at large is outraged by an inciident like this. It is that the US population at large is NOT outraged by the fact that about 90 people are killed by firearms in the US every day, and that number is no more newsworthy that the fact that 90 or 100 people die in road accidents every day, or even that over 100 people commit suicide every day. (Of course there is some overlap in the numbers here, since more than half of male suicides involve the use of firearms).

    The USA collectively agrees that 90 road deaths a day is an acceptable price for everybody having the "right" to operate a vehicle (subject only to minimum checks on physical and psychological competence, which have a pass-rate close to 100%), and that isn't way out of line compared with many other cultures around the world.

    The USA also collectively agrees to treat gun possession and use in pretty much the same way as vehicle posession and use, and apparently doesn't mind the consequence, most of the time. That IS way out of line compared with many other world cultures. That doesn't make it "wrong" - just "different".

    Public attitudes do change over time (examples are too obvious to need quoting). It's possible the USA might changes its collective attitude to a position where 10 deaths a day by firearms is "too many" - or even that 1,000 deaths a day is no big deal. Without that change, everything else is just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic IMO.
  8. Dec 15, 2012 #7


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    I've always worked in secure locations. You had to enter and leave through "man traps". These can be built to spec, but basically, you enter a small room when you come into the buliding, then either you have a pass key to let yourself into the mantrap, or security will let you into the trap. Once you set foot into the trap, the door you came into locks behind you, the door in front of you is also locked. The glass is bullet proof, you get weighed, you get scanned by a metal detector, the security guard is watching you on survielance cameras. If you pass inspection, then either you have the key card or pass code to let yourself out, or the security guard does, you will pass by the security desk and show them your badge,then in my building after all this, you had to use your card key again to leave the gaurd area and get to elevators, etc to get into the rest of the builiding.

    If you didn't register as an employee inside the mantrap, a security guard greets you to find out who you are there to see and you remain with him until the person you're seeing comes to get you.

    If you don't pass, you remain inside the trap until the police come to take you away.

    Never had anyone get through one of these systems in all the years I worked, (since they started installing them. Thousands of people would pass through these every day.

    This is a very simple mantrap setup.

    Attached Files:

  9. Dec 15, 2012 #8
    The technology to protect schools is plenty available, the issue is do the schools have the budgets needed to implement this tech. I mean, are they going to put armored glass (transparent armor) in place of all the windows too? Because someone could always just shoot through the windows.
  10. Dec 15, 2012 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    The difficulty with the mantrap is that it is easily subverted. The shooter will accounted for it and gone into the school via a janitors door or something. The other problem is letting the kids in one by one will be very timeconsuming. Its possible the shooter could enter without a gun and have some kid bring it in in his backpack. We've already seen where some kid brings his Dad's gun to school for show and tell or in the case of one kid his Dad's stash.

    I keep thinking we also need to empower the teacher with some sort of non-lethal countermeasures that can be deployed to protect and disable the shooter like the laser blinder and we need to lockdown classrooms to limit the shooters access.
  11. Dec 15, 2012 #10
    One thing that might work, although not technology-related specifically, could be to let people with concealed carry permits have their guns in the schools. I'm not saying arm all the teachers, but I mean for people who have such permits, why not let them have their weapon inside? In Connecticut, you have to get a permit to purchase a handgun, you have to get a license, and then to carry it, you have to get another permit.
  12. Dec 15, 2012 #11


    Staff: Mentor

    Having the principal or any teacher armed is probably more dangerous consider the many police accidents where a gun is dropped or falls out of a holster onto a park bench (happened in Austin with K9 officer and special leg holster commonly used)

    The other problem is the shooter comes prepared to ambush the first person he/she sees giving that person a poor chance of countering if the shooter is a good shot. Before others can respond he/she could take out 3 or 4 people with a semi-automatic.

    Again, gun control aside, I'm looking for effective deterrents that can slow or stop an assailant before they can do too much damage that can't be easily co-opted and that don't hinder police. Lockdown seems like the best so far with wirelessly controlled locks.

    Thinking out of the box, flying robots that could follow the gunshots and swarm the shooter attacking with laser blinders can overwhelm him with panic. However I think the technology isn't there yet, since the robots cant carry much of a payload or enough battery to stay in the air for long not tomention keeping them charged and ready for use.

    Next what about pellet guns or paintball guns for countermeasures for teachers.
  13. Dec 15, 2012 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    My feeling is that this wouldn't fly again because of the idea of guns in the classroom, the possibility of a teacher doing what this shooter did or that a child gets the gun or it gets dropped and discharges.

    The teachers countermeasure might accidentally hurt a child but it shouldn't be able to kill. The key is to have something the teacher can use to defend her class and herself.

    Another thought was the use of light-weight fire extinguishers with special adjustable nozzles to spray fire retardant on the shooter to blind him/her effective to a range of thirty feet.
  14. Dec 15, 2012 #13


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    That wouldn't be a good idea. Carrying a weapon doesn't mean the person would have the skill or nerve to use it. Do you propose the teacher walk around wearing a holster with a loaded gun around small children? :uhh: Also, the element of surprise is with the killer, most likely to take out the "armed" teacher before they could figure out what to do. Their first duty is to get the children out of the way, not start playing Rambo inside a room full of kids.

    Mantraps can be at all entrances for adults. The children can go through metal detectors in a secure area with a security guard.

    The high school I attended briefly was a very dangerous one, due to zoning, everyone in my neighborhood went to private schools, I decided to go to an out of district school that my parents had to pay for, I just couldn't handle the environment at that school, it was all mexican gangs. There were so many violent attacks, killings, and murder threats against the assistant principle that they only had two entrances we could use. There were armed gaurds standing on each side of the entrance, one side of the hallway was blocked with piles of desks and chairs, and we'd have to enter and walk single file sideways with our backs to the wall. So it can be done with a low budget and no physical modicfications, but of course it was like a war zone. Police helicoptors flew overhead during lunch.
  15. Dec 15, 2012 #14
    If carrying the gun, it would be concealed carry. Open carry is a whole different ballgame. Plenty of states have concealed carry licensing for handguns. You don't open carry it anywhere. But even then, the teacher could keep it locked in a special safe of some type or something in the classroom. Also, make sure the person with the gun has a permit, and knows how to use it. I'm not saying just let anyone bring their gun to the school.

    And if the person is of the mindset to run towards the shooting, to try and stop the shooter, I believe that, upon seeing the guy doing something like gunning down children, they very much will have the nerve to use the weapon. If they do not have the nerve to use the weapon while witnessing that, then they probably would never have run in that direction in the first place.

    Six people ran towards the shooter and couldn't stop him. If one of them had been able to grab a firearm, the whole thing might have turned out differently. I know if I have a gun and see a maniac gunning down children, I'm not going to just let him keep shooting them because of a fear of accidentally shooting one of them myself (or at least I hope I wouldn't).

  16. Dec 15, 2012 #15


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    Is there any study on noise that can affect human balance and focus temporarily? I was thinkig noise alarms.. Sigh.
  17. Dec 15, 2012 #16
    This will go off on a long tangent if we let it, but I disagree. When you become lazy or complacent, negligence happens. When you "clean" a loaded gun, negligence happens. When you assume that because you are a police officer that you automatically are an expert on firearms since you carry one every day, negligence happens. In the shooting world we have a saying : there is no such thing as an accidental discharge, only a negligent discharge.

    This would be worse than 30 or 300 defenseless innocents being taken out how, exactly?

    They should not be wireless. Wire them into the building, and make sure they can run off internal power if there's an outage. All they need to do is lock the doors so they can't be opened from the outside, on every classroom, bathroom, etc. This will trap the shooter in the hallways and prevent them from entering other rooms, but allow people to escape a fire, or temporarily open a door to allow fleeing classmates in who also got stuck outside.

    Obviously of course the cheap safety glass on the classroom doors will have to be replaced with bullet resistant stuff.

    There are a lot of other problems as well. Mobility, identifying the gunman, and so on. Maybe one day, but I don't think it's today. ;)

    There is zero chance you're going to catch me (or any sane person without a death wish) facing down an armed attacker with a paintball or pellet gun. Thousands of kids play paintball and airsoft every day and are used to the discomfort of being hit, and just wearing an extra layer of clothing negates the whole thing.

    Now on the other hand, other less lethal options are available that are proven effective in most cases. Tasers, "bean-bag" rounds in shotguns, things like that.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  18. Dec 15, 2012 #17
    As said, put the gun in a special safe. As for the possibility of the teacher doing what that shooter did, allowing a gun in the classroom isn't going to result in a teacher suddenly becoming a killer like that. If a teacher really is intent on committing such an act, they'll just disobey the law as this shooter did. And so long as the gun is unloaded and has the safety on, it is virtually impossible to get an accidental discharge.
  19. Dec 15, 2012 #18


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    Yeah and how many academics do you know that have a barbaric side capable of shooting and killing a human? It is easy to talk about what you are capable of and what you WOULD do but that means absolutely nothing. Oh..and another thing what were those people called again...uh...security guards I think right? I think they still exist.
  20. Dec 15, 2012 #19
    A barbaric side is not required. If after having run to try and save children from being shot by a guy firing round after round, I do not think the academic with the firearm is just going to stand there and let the guy keep killing children because he can't muster the ability to shoot the shooter?
  21. Dec 15, 2012 #20
    I can't agree with this. Out of sight is one thing, but unloaded and locked in a safe is next to worthless -- for the first classroom anyway. When the kid walks into the room with his trenchcoat and shotgun, you aren't going to have time to open a safe and load a gun -- even if you can master the fine motor skills needed to do both tasks while under that kind of threat.

    In this particular case, maybe, since it started in the principals office and people had decent lead time, but in most of these incidents the shooter starts in a crowded area like a classroom or lunchroom.

    It's better than nothing of course, but still. Carrying concealed by someone who isn't afraid of the tool and is familiar with how to use it is a far better option if saving the most amount of lives is the primary concern.
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