Sadly, active shooter incidents in the United States continue to become more frequent and widespread. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 273 mass shootings between January 1 and October 3, 2017. That averages to a shocking 7.5 mass shootings each week.


No matter how many drills, practices and training exercises an enterprise runs through, nothing can truly prepare security staff for the chaos that results during a security incident such as an active shooter event, which, on average, can last for 12.5 minutes. Sometimes in the confusion of the moment, even trained security staff can forget their training or don’t know precisely where to go or what actions to take to best mitigate the situation at hand. This is especially apt to happen when fear and panic – which only escalate as an active shooter incident unfolds – are driving their reactions moment by moment.


While this adds risk to an already volatile situation, it is easy to understand how it can happen. Given this reality, it only makes sense for the security department to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for security staff and operators to follow in an active shooter or other crisis situation. Often, though SOPs can be complicated, which increases the likelihood of human error in an already stressful situation.


One technology that can help to overcome complication with SOPs and the stress of an active shooter situation while providing immediate awareness and response is a Physical Security and Identity Management (PSIM) solution. PSIMs can automate many actions and provide the specific moment-by-moment, person-by-person procedures that are needed during an active shooter event. Here are three key capabilities of PSIMs that help a security team respond to an active shooter situation.



A primary capability of PSIM solutions is the ability to integrate diverse systems seamlessly into a single, centralized interface. Today’s security operations centers (SOCs) often have a range of different and constantly changing technologies that must work together.   


In an active shooter situation, security staff needs full interoperability, regardless of the manufacturer. PSIM can integrate diverse systems, and can offer security staff a user interface that doesn’t change. When a crisis occurs, this is important, so that security can focus on doing their job, versus trying to quickly learn a new user interface.



Without question, time is of the essence when responding to an active shooter incident, and simplicity can be key to an effective response. PSIMs can provide easy-to-follow workflows that guide a security team step-by-step through the proper SOPs by using simple yes/no questions, directing them what to say and do and providing quick links for specific actions; for example, a building-wide mass notification. The answer to each question and action determines the next step to keep the process extremely fast and simple, helping to ensure effective response even in a chaotic situation.


Post-event, a PSIM solution can generate reports detailing what happened, what steps were taken, and overall how the team responded to the incident all of which can be quickly shared with law enforcement and investigators.


Situational Awareness

During an active shooter situation, it is vital for first responders to have the most complete information to ensure the most effective and appropriate response. PSIMs can collect, sort and analyze large volumes of data in one place. With videos, maps, call lists, building information and other security data at their fingertips, there’s no need for security staff to manually search for data from multiple systems.


With a PSIM, when an emergency call is received with the approximate location of the incident, the system can automatically display the nearby live video cameras. This provides security staff with the valuable seconds they need to identify the nature of the threat. With this situational awareness, the PSIM can send a mass notification alert, lock doors in that area and open up lines of communication with first responders to share the relevant live video and key information about the situation that is critical to saving lives.   


Active shooter events are a serious threat to an organization’s security and ability to keep employees and facilities safe. PSIM solutions can offer enterprise security a tool to enable faster, more effective and a safer incident response.