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Gunshot Detection Systems

A gunshot detection system is typically comprised of one or more sensors (optical and/or acoustic) that accurately and reliably detects live ammunition (gunshots) being discharged

Last Updated 24 February 2021


A gunshot detection system (GDS) is typically comprised of one or more sensors (optical and/or acoustic) that accurately and reliably detect live ammunition (gunshots) being discharged.

On positive detection of a gunshot, notification alerts generated by the system are then typically displayed on an assigned computer screen within a security control room for investigation and action by a person or integrated security system.

The NPSA approach

NPSA aims to assist the national infrastructure and other sensitive sites by:

  • assuring varied GDS technologies
  • providing advice on methods of deployment and best practices
  • providing advice on system integration with existing control room technologies
  • investigating how security control room staff interact with GDS in the initial stages of a marauding terrorist firearms attack.

How would a site or location benefit from a GDS?

With the ever increasing threat to the UK of an incident involving a firearm in either a building, facility or crowded space, NPSA has investigated technology that can immediately and accurately detect when a firearm is being discharged.

The major benefits for utilising the early detection capability that a GDS provides, combined with an appropriate set of response procedures are:

  • it provides reliable and accurate information about when and where a firearm has been discharged for further investigation by a designated person.
  • with the information provided it gives people the ability to make an informed decision to take suitable action - for example, either run or hide.

a significantly decreased response time to a firearms incident by:

  • the local or remote guard force
  • the emergency services

it can be used to deliver certain effects, if combined with existing control room technology e.g.

  • automated building lockdown
  • automated public announcements to employees and/or the general public in the immediate and surrounding areas
  • activate active delay systems

instigate auto capture of associated CCTV for use during the incident

When the benefits above are realised this could ultimately result in lives being saved.

Where can a GDS operate?

Depending on the sensor technology used, systems can be deployed indoors, outdoors or in covered areas.

NPSA have focussed primarily on testing and assuring indoor gunshot detection systems. Outdoor and covered area systems will be investigated in the future.

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