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Johnson Controls Partners with EAGL on Gunshot Detection

The security systems retailer has seen a rise in demand for versatile gunshot detection technology at the same time the CARES Act is offering money to local governments for security upgrades.

by / July 31, 2020

The CARES Act is offering money to local governments for various projects, such as building and security upgrades, at a time when their offices are empty. Realizing the money is there while workers are out of the way, a trio of security companies has partnered to sell indoor and outdoor gunshot-detection systems.

An announcement earlier this month from Johnson Controls, an Ireland-based retailer whose portfolio of products runs from electronic locks to industrial refrigeration parts, said the company is partnering with EAGL Technology to sell EAGL’s gunshot detection systems and distribute them via Anixter, an Illinois-based supplier. Alka Khungar, a senior manager at Johnson Controls, told Government Technology that Johnson Controls has sold other gunshot detection systems, but customers have been asking for wireless sensors and other variations, and EAGL’s system ticked most of the boxes while improving on range and sensitivity. Essentially, the new partnership is a result of market demand for hardware and software that can integrate with an existing environment with minimal upheaval.

“I started in this role in October, and one of the things I started looking at was what’s driving our customers' decisions to purchase gun detection [systems],” she said. “We’ve seen a surge in active-shooting incidents, we’ve seen a surge in the need for mass notifications and we’re definitely seeing a lot more interest in customers looking for a one-stop-shop solution to give them all their technology needs.”

According to the news release, EAGL is a relative newcomer to the gunshot detection space, founded in 2015 and building its technology on gunshot ballistic science from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. One of its main competitors, ShotSpotter, which serves more than 100 cities, has been in business since 1996.

Khungar said less intrusive wireless technology is a selling point for customers like churches and museums that want to preserve their physical structures and not drill holes in their walls. For government buildings looking to upgrade their security, she said, there’s also the matter of integrating with existing video management or security control systems, which EAGL can do because it was built with APIs from an open platform.

The EAGL system itself entails five components: a server and a gateway to connect to it; either indoor or outdoor hardware, called FireFLY and DragonFLY, respectively; a “duress button,” like a manual alarm; and software that pushes out mass notifications to law enforcement and building security, analyzes where the shot was fired and synchronizes with video systems to track a suspect inside the building.

Khungar said Johnson Controls has been approached not only by law enforcement, but also K-12 school districts and municipalities looking for wireless gunshot detection systems for outdoor concert areas, arenas, public parks or courthouses.

Because the CARES Act is offering money to local governments for emergency preparedness and response products, and many buildings are at low occupancy, she said, now is as good a time as any to invest in security systems.

“That definition of ‘emergency preparedness and response’ includes examples of weapons detection, gunshot detection and mass notifications, so that’s how we’re bringing EAGL into the conversation with our customers,” Khungar said. “Now when everybody’s getting ready to discuss — or they’re already working on — reopening strategies, these are some of the things our reps are being trained to work with customers on.”

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Andrew Westrope Staff Writer

Andrew Westrope is a staff writer for Government Technology. Before that, he was a reporter and editor at community newspapers for seven years. He has a Bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.

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