We Must Act Now to Save Our Children!

America’s schools are under attack and our children are dying needlessly. All of our lives are impacted when a soft-target is attacked whether it is by an irate demented former student, embittered employee or a terrorist organization. We are all in the cross-hairs of future large scale events on a more frequent basis. We must do something to stop these massacres now and we can!

The recent active shooter incident in Boulder Colorado which killed 10 people and in Atlanta Ga which killed 8 people could have been prevented or mitigated with tools that exist today.

A parent in Boulder mentioned, ‘we live in Boulder, we never thought it would happen here.’ They were right, until it happened. I see this thought process too often. It has to stop!

The horrific mass killings at schools such as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which left 17 dead and at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida which left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded are tragedies that could have have been prevented or mitigated with tools that exist today. This has to stop!

According to the FBI, there were 277 active shooter incidents, 884 deaths and 1546 wounded from 2000 through 2018.

Citizens are irate and there are carefully crafted rhetoric and big bold statements flowing from politicians on both sides of our political system after an active shooter incident occurs. Go back and you will see the same type of big talk after Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and many other high profile events.

Unfortunately, the urgency fades fast and the active shooter incidents become page 15 news in a couple of weeks. If the stock market goes up or down 1,000 points it will fade even sooner.

The bold statements melt away like an April snow and most people move on with their lives until the next school massacres occur and the cycle continues.

But not everyone moves on. If you are directly impacted it will destroy your life forever. If it is your child, your spouse, your parents or your friends it will never go away! Never. A life of anguish and thoughts of ‘what could have been’. I have seen these scenarios play out countless times in my profession.

Mass Murders Must Stop and We Can Do It!

I am a critical solutions advisor / business continuity professional. I am tasked with helping companies and employees understand threats and finding ways to either prevent or mitigate them. Mine is a no-miss profession.

I have told employers and clients that if I get it right 99 times out of 100 I have failed and you must fire me or I will quit. Happily I have never been fired.

I started writing about the need for hardening our soft targets to prevent these types of attacks days after the Columbine mass murders 20+ years ago. My initial warnings were a chilling precursor to the many events that subsequently transpired and will continue to escalate if we do not wake up.

For too long we have been needlessly playing Russian Roulette with our children’s lives. We have relied on outdated processes and systems that have failed us.

Delayed or No Detection & Response Destroys Lives

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

This must stop:

  • Someone known to a school can get close to and gain entry with an AR-15. I question the level of situational awareness and perimeter security.
  • Agencies respond to complaints, visit a person of interest and their takeaway report is scribbled on a piece of paper. I question if the data ever made its way into a centralized database.
  • Data is not automatically cross-referenced with social media data and data in multiple agency databases to identify patterns and raise warning flags in real-time.
  • Potential life-saving tips are received and not escalated to the proper people and not followed up – the system is broken.
  • We have camera systems but they are not monitored in real-time

It is not shocking to me that we fail over and over. There should be no surprise that we rarely ‘connect-the-dots’. If we do get lucky and connect them they are not properly followed-up-on. In fact, I would be shocked if our antiquated processes and systems actually worked in the majority of incidents.

We irresponsibly rely too much on processes and technology that worked sometimes in the industrial age. In our new digital age our approach is pathetic and our citizens suffer the consequences.

Active shooter and terrorist events happen in seconds and minutes. The posse is not coming before there are mass casualties. It is time for us to wake up and develop better and more innovative real-time solutions.

In addition, priorities changed with COVID-19 during 2020 — early 2021. It has all of our attention. I get it, especially as my mother died in November 2020 of COVID related causes.

Unfortunately, we cannot put active shooter detection and response on the back burner. If we do, we will certainly be burying victims that did not deserve to die. Remember, it could happen anywhere at any time. It can happen in your neighborhood as your are reading this today, tomorrow or when you least expect it.

Planning and Training Saves Lives

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

The first step to minimizing impact is all schools and companies need tested response plans. Some schools and companies have one and others need to create one as soon as possible. A plan is critical but it is only part of the solution.

There also must be training such as run — hide — fight. People must be taught what to do when confronted with a life-threatening situation. People that are trained properly will respond faster and will not panic as often as the untrained.

Importantly, plans that are not tested will likely fail at time of incident. You must walk through your plan. You must know the gaps in your plan before an incident occurs.

Try to break your plan and then close the gaps. Test again. Find the holes and fix them.

Insure every new student and new employee is trained how to respond to an active shooter incident.

The Solution — Real Time Technology Saves Lives

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

We must immediately make better use of powerful digital technologies. In 2021 new technology tools using artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, sensors, drones, robots and mass notification systems can save lives.

I know they can because I implement and use digital tools to mitigate and prevent future massacres. In fact, my entire career has been focused on finding and implementing innovative technologies for security, safety and continuity of operations.

  • Technology can work 24×7 to identify and rank threats buried in oceans of data that would be invisible to humans.
  • Technology can ensure life-saving alerts are communicated instantly — every second saved can mean people live instead of die in an active shooter or terrorism event. Most active shooter events are over in under 5 minutes.
  • Technology provides accountability at every point in the process.

Below are two examples of real-time threat response technologies I have tested and recommend that can help save lives:

‘BEFORE the First Shot is Fired Solution’: use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict an active-shooter or violent protest BEFORE a shot is fired.

For example, Scylla.ai uses artificial intelligence to predict active-shooter incidents BEFORE they occur with high accuracy. Timely notifications can instantly be broadcast to the right people. For you movie buffs, this was only possible in ‘Minority Report’ but it is real. Watch this short video to see how it is done. Remember, once a shot is fired it is often too late and lives are lost.

‘When the First Shot is Fired Solution’: use acoustic sensors to alert the right people almost instantaneously when the first shot is fired. Shooter Detection Systems (SDS) provides a valuable solution that can save lives.

Both ‘Before the shot is fired’ and ‘When the shot is fired’ threat response solutions can be integrated with mass communications systems, alarms, sirens and desktop popup alerts for end-to-end real-time solutions.

I have completed these life-saving types of critical solution integrations and often it is as simple as ‘snapping Lego blocks together’.


Our society is being destroyed by the bad guys that are using new technologies to kill us, destroy our infrastructure and interfere with our politics. We have the tools that can stop them. It is time we get the upper hand by using new technology solutions.

Tragically it is too late for hundreds of wonderful people with promising futures.

We must become more creative, innovative and visionary. We must stop being afraid of change. We must stop being afraid machines will take our jobs. We must stop worrying that using powerful technology will cost us our freedom and rights because they will not. The human-machine partnership will allow us to live and prosper as a society.

I am focused on moving the needle forward to mitigate and prevent active shooter massacres using cutting-edge digital solutions. My next posts will further detail the tools and technologies that will get us there.

Marty Fox is a critical solutions expert advisor, digital technology thought leader and is the Director Critical Technology Solutions for an $18 billion company. He publishes the Critical Solutions Advisor Newsletter.

Marty has successfully helped hundreds of organizations prevent, mitigate, and respond in real-time to critical threats using tools and technologies for improved safety, security, compliance, risk and continuity of operations.