New Guardly Mobile and Guardly Command Apps Enhance Crisis Communication and Indoor Positioning Capabilities

Toronto, Canada – June 3, 2015 – Today, Guardly announced new versions of Guardly Command, Guardly Mobile for Android, Apple iOS and BlackBerry 10 devices, expanded device and beacon support for its Indoor Positioning System, as well as global support, distribution and telecommunications functionality for its enterprise customers.

“Feedback from hundreds of meetings with security and operations leaders was the driving force behind our engineering effort to better align our solution with the growing day-to-day needs of our enterprise customers,” said Guardly CEO, Rob Moffat. “Customers wanted a truly enterprise mobile experience to improve crisis communications, both operationally and in emergency situations. Guardly Mobile is easy to use and flexible enough to power ‘See Something, Say Something’ initiatives at our customers’ properties.”

Guardly Command is used by security and operations professionals to manage inbound and outbound alerts, communicate, and locate people indoors and around the world. Key upgrades include:

  • Custom operational (non-emergency) alert types can be easily setup for each customer, such as a Suspicious Activity report, Walk Safe request, or Property Damage alert
  • New policies framework enables custom inbound alert escalation and notification preferences for each alert type based on mobile user location and customer geofence locations
  • Simplified Alert management ensures even resource-constrained organizations can manage concurrent alerts
  • Alert categorization and templates, send alert preview and enhanced alert distribution targeting
  • Voice Alerts is a new paid service offering that will call users in a selected user group and deliver text-to-voice messages – with a strong audit trail of call interactions and alert delivery
  • Integrated Google Chrome Notifications enhance a security operator’s ability to quickly engage with Guardly Command when a new Alert arrives

Guardly Mobile has been completely re-engineered on Android, Apple iOS and BlackBerry 10 devices to deliver an end-to-end enterprise mobile experience for customers. Key features include:

  • Send and receive critical alerts to and from your organization, anywhere in the world
  • Easily report non-emergency and operational issues to your organization
  • Quick-access emergency duress alerting
  • Indoor positioning to help security find users inside buildings
  • Synchronization of your organizational contact list
  • Simplified user signup and registration to under 60 seconds
  • App store distribution has been expanded from North America to worldwide for enterprise deployments
  • Enhanced user privacy and collection of information measures for compliance and regulatory

Guardly Indoor Positioning System (IPS) now supports Apple iOS and BlackBerry 10 devices in addition to Android smartphones. The integration of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons into Guardly’s indoor positioning framework was the enabling factor leading to Apple iOS device support. Using a combination of WiFi access points and BLE beacons, Guardly IPS can now be configured in a WiFi-only, Beacon-only, or Hybrid WiFi/Beacon mode, and use either a fingerprinting or direct association indoor positioning methodology ­– to meet the needs of different customers. Guardly’s IPS mapping engine has integrated Estimote and Mobiquity SDKs to connect directly to beacons for custom setup and tuning, and can detect any additional beacon types meeting the open AltBeacon standard on Android and iBeacon standard on iOS.

By subscribing to Guardly Solutions, your organization will always receive general system enhancements and upgrades at no additional cost. IP checker Speak to a Guardly solutions consultant to learn more.

About Guardly
Guardly is a mobile crisis communication solution that provides true situational awareness through alerts and interactions with enterprise staff. Unlike GPS-limited solutions, Guardly uses indoor positioning to locate threats and track people who need help inside buildings, significantly reducing emergency response time. Guardly mobile security applications broadcast indoor and GPS location, and support two-way communication by phone and secure text with security operators. Guardly provides an integrated solution for security operations management including alert monitoring, management and response, helping security operators make faster and more effective decisions. Guardly solutions for enterprise organizations, property management and retail customers leverage the latest cloud, mobile, indoor positioning and real-time technologies, redefining crisis communication management. To learn more about Guardly, please visit:


Over the weekend, the Guardly team took part in a very successful active shooter simulation and training exercise run jointly between the Toronto Police Services and the Campus Security team at OCAD University.

Did you catch the Guardly Indoor Positioning Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon sitting just above the “EXIT” sign of the front entrance?

Goal Setting

The goal of the exercise was to recreate a highly dynamic, fast-moving situation that could draw upon key emotions such as fear, terror and surprise to train both police officers and campus security managers and guards on how to manage these situations as best as possible, whilst utilizing all the technological resources they have at hand to ensure best possible outcomes including:

  • Neutralizing the gunman or gunmen
  • Decreasing overall time of active threat
  • Minimizing total casualties
  • Recommending to people indoors to exit the building using safe pathways to lower-risk areas
  • Locating injured victims and getting them medical assistance

Basic Training: Confronting an Active Attacker

The morning began with a lecture from Toronto Police on “Confronting an Active Attacker”, which provided some good foundational information on what to expect when confronting a gunman at a school or other location. The presentation also highlighted the importance of early identification (and remedy) of mental health problems in many of the active shooter cases.

Active Shooter Scenarios

Two scenarios were run over the course of the day, and they involved single shooter and multiple gunman scenarios, clothing changes and other plot changes to increase the level of difficulty for responding officers. As if responding to an active gunman threat wasn’t difficult enough?

A core part of the active shooter simulation involved the use of OCAD University’s campus security technologies to become informed that a shooter was now present on campus, inform others that there is now an active threat on campus endangering many lives, locate the gunmen within the building and work together with Toronto Police to neutralize the threats and get help to the injured as quickly as possible.

In one of the scenarios, a Guardly alert from a smartphone was used to generate a phone call and visual indicator into OCADU campus security that an active shooter threat was now present on campus; the phone call was not picked up due to the active threat, but text-based communication with security was facilitated through Guardly’s secure and encrypted chat features. The alert also pin-pointed the exact indoor location within the building from which the alert was generated, in this case it was 100 McCaul, Floor 2, Pink Stairwell K — useful information when needing to locate a shooter quickly in a large building.

Indoor location data is sometimes referred to as Indoor GPS (or IPS).

From there, the OCADU campus security team initiated mass notifications to inform others within the building that a threat was present with instructions on how to conduct themselves to minimize further casualties. The security team utilized IPS-tagged text messages and IPS-tagged photos/images from the Guardly app, along with information from their VMS system to follow the gunmen as they changed locations within the building.

The exercise took place in OCADU’s 6-storey, 100 McCaul building, which is actually considered 2 buildings: The Main Building (levels 1-4) and the Sharp Centre for Design (levels 5-6).

Not Our First Rodeo

This is the second large-scale active shooter simulation that Guardly has taken part in over the last 8 months.

Previously, Guardly’s technology proved to be instrumental to the multi-stakeholder communication between a large mall’s central security operations and its guards, key tenants and staff during a similar exercise held in the United States with the Department of Homeland Security.

Guardly recently published a white paper called Improving Response During Active Shooter Incidents with Indoor Positioning Systems that outlines how indoor positioning technology can help security operations teams neutralize active shooter threats.

Lessons Learned

With every active shooter training day, experiential learning teaches us something new about the dynamics of high-stress, highly-dynamic situations. With each lesson, we re-evaluate, retune and refine elements of Guardly’s mobile and command center applications to make them ever-better suited to handle even the most difficult of situations with added grace and simplified usability.

If you are holding an active shooter training exercise within your buildings or facilities in the near future, and would like to see how Guardly would fit into your existing procedures and protocols, please reach out to us. We’d be glad to discuss with you further.



Active shooter events are unfortunately, increasingly common incidents. Although these events hold a low-probability risk at any given site, the consequences of inappropriately managing such an event can have devastating effects on your business (such as negative public perception or PR and decreased sales), organizational culture, and your career.

The rate of active shooter occurrences per year has shown an increased trend over the last decade. A US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) study released last year indicated that there were 160 active shooter events on US soil between 2000 and 2013.

Active Shooter Event Locations

Statistics from the same US DHS study further indicated that active shooter event locations tended to be higher in businesses and malls, but suggested a truly diverse collection of active shooter sites – Businesses & Malls (46%), Schools (24%), Government (10%), Houses of Worship (4%), Health Care Facilities (3%) and Other (13%).

An intriguing fact from a Police Executive Research Forum study released in 2014 indicated that 83% of active shooter events since 2000 occurred inside buildings. This is an important criterion, since active shooter training programs, trained response and overall incident management procedures are different when considering indoor and outdoor active shooters.

Responding to an indoor active shooter introduces several complexities. Having the right security technologies installed and ready-for-use inside buildings can offer big advantages to security and law enforcement teams tasked with managing this incident and optimizing for best outcomes.

Shooter Detection: The First Minute

Security teams can begin responding only to events that they know exists, hence the importance of discovering the active shooter – or shooters – quickly.

Though many security budgets have found room to install upgraded video management and access control systems, neither of these technologies is particularly well suited to discover gunshots or gunmen on site. Many traditional technologies that assist with alerting and/or communicating emergencies to security may not work in active shooter scenarios because people need to run away, hide and take cover or immediately fight to survive. No time to find a traditional emergency phone.

Once an active shooter threat is evident, at least four concurrent processes will begin to take place:

  1. Locate and neutralize the active shooter;
  2. Ensure that people with emergency medical concerns get immediate medical attention;
  3. Help people sheltering-in-place exit the building safely, away from potential gunfire; and
  4. Communicate to others, to prevent them entering the building and other unsafe areas.

But first, let’s focus on point #1 – locate and neutralize the active shooter.

Increasingly, modern technologies are often responsible for security teams becoming aware of active shooter situations; in particular, communications from smartphones and advanced sensor networks. Let’s face it, smartphones are almost always on our person.

With the added complexity of managing gunmen within indoor settings, let’s explore 2 newer indoor technologies and how they can assist security teams in the first minute:

Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS) – IPS systems use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons and WiFi access points, together with smartphones, to report floor and room locations of people inside buildings. Safety apps using IPS can provide IPS-tagged alerts, IPS-tagged communication and photos. IPS-tagged data can be shared with security when a gun is seen, before any shots are fired – and in between shots fired.

Gunshot Sensors – These sensors detect gunshots and report the locations of gunshots indoors or outdoors. Security teams will be alerted very rapidly about each gunshot fired, but sensors limit feedback to specific points in time when shots are fired.

Communicate: An Active Shooter Event has Occurred

Security professionals often have a responsibility to notify different stakeholder groups about active shooter events. This responsibility is also an opportunity to engage people, communicate, learn and make better incident management decisions.

In 80% of active shooter cases, law enforcement takes longer than 5 minutes to show up once a shooter has been reported (US DoJ report). Thus, people inside the building may be security’s best bet to early shooter neutralization.

Often, these people are security’s only eyes and ears on the ground before security guards and/or law enforcement arrives. Consequently, they are the only people who could provide security with real-time information about the shooters – other than what might be seen on video cameras, provided security knows which cameras to watch at the right time.

The question becomes: How do you effectively alert and communicate with these people and get access to critical information? Two-way notification engines are a great example – those that accept message replies from recipients. It’s even better if the notification system has IPS capabilities, so that security immediately understands the indoor locations from which these messages are coming.

Further Reading

In November 2014, Guardly released a white paper titled Improving Response During Active Shooter Incidents with Indoor Positioning Systems, which examines 5 tactical challenges faced by security leaders as they manage and respond to active shooter threats, and explores how IPS technologies can provide strategic advantages. The white paper includes the opinions of a diverse set of past and present Chief Security Officers, and also provides a background on what indoor positioning technology is and how it works.

Closing Questions

File these questions away for the next time you’re evaluating your security technology plan. How quickly can you detect the location of a shooter or other imminent threats inside your buildings? Are you setup to access and leverage real-time information from people in your organization? Are you able to quickly locate and determine who needs help inside your buildings?


This article is an adaptation of my previous article titled Technologies Offer You a Better Shot at Managing Active Shooter Threats, originally posted in Security Magazine’s eNewsletter in January 2015.



Convergence and integration have driven countless operational efficiencies in security operations centers – just look at the benefits already gleaned from the interoperability of video management systems, access control, alarm systems and other technologies and data sets. IT convergence is now in the process of expanding from command centers to mobile workers.

The Power of Smartphones

Smartphones are now more powerful than computers that we all used and loved just a decade ago. They are affordable, and in the hands of the majority of the North American population; heck some people even carry two smartphones (not to mention tablets). Smartphones have emerged as a new platform for physical security – smart, connected and powerful devices that are increasingly put in the hands of a growing number of staff in almost every organization. Today, most organizations have already adopted mobile applications in some form for physical security, but in a limited capacity and for a limited number of users – typically members of the security group, or a handful of executives for travel safety purposes. That is changing rapidly.

The next wave of security products and applications will be driven by data generated from onboard sensors and radios, and interactions with other smartphone components. Beyond phone calls, today’s smartphones pack high-bandwidth cellular data and WiFi connections, which can stream high-quality video and audio streams, Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 (BLE) radios that consume very little power and have the capability to communicate with an increasing number of wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices and drive novel proximity-based, indoor location applications.

Today’s smartphones also have an increasing array of sensors including gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers that provide detailed information about the immediate surroundings of that device, and when combined with other radios such as GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi, can yield information about where people are located within buildings with ever-increasing accuracy.

The smartphone is a powerful platform.

Emerging Smartphone Applications for Security

Early examples of security-driven mobile apps with wide distribution potential include access control solutions that leverage NFC, BLE, or RFID communication for proximity-based access control in place of typical access cards and card readers. There are now several documented cases of these types of systems being rolled out; a great recent example of this is the use of smartphones as a proxy for identity and as an access control credential for hotel guests to easily check-in and access their room with a smartphone.

Another security-driven example is the use of mobile apps for employee safety and security – utilizing mobile devices to quickly locate and determine the indoor locations of employees and other people within buildings during emergencies, and enhance communication and information sharing between a security operations center and its employees.

These applications are very sticky and completely transform the experience of security by simplifying processes and reducing time to satisfaction or time to emergency response.

Big Data, Personal Information & Privacy

From a security management standpoint, the aggregation of sensor, location, video and other information from mobile devices across different groups of people has the potential to generate meaningful “Big Data” sets that can be analyzed for patterns, operational efficiencies, emergency planning and a multitude of other uses. A myopic view at the individual level can provide highly detailed personal information about someone, including information collected from the sensors and radios of their mobile device(s) over time; provided of course, that the necessary privacy consents have been received by those individuals in advance.

Many security leaders are well aware of the “Big Brother” concerns that may exist within their organizations, or within certain circles in their organizations. After speaking with dozens of security leaders on the matter, early signals indicate that most security leaders agree that benefits to the organization at the executive-level and at the security-level outweigh perceived risks of privacy.

Security leaders have had to battle similar concerns around privacy with CCTV implementations over the last couple decades; in an analogous fashion, most remain positive that these are issues that they can manage within their companies.

To gain extended stakeholder buy-in within organizations, security leaders agree that clear communication surrounding which information is being collected by mobile apps, when it is being collected by mobile apps, and how it is being used by the organization are all extremely important. Further, clear policies should outline the specific individuals within the organization who will have access to this information, and under which circumstances.

Final Thoughts

We are living in a very exciting time for the security industry. Each day, new capabilities emerge that make solving security-related incidents an easier feat, driving higher incident close/solve rates and enabling security teams to deliver higher qualities of service.

How are you embracing smartphones in your organization? How do mobile applications drive value for your organization? If your organization hasn’t yet embraced smartphones – why not? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

This article is an adaptation of my previous article titled Emergence of Smartphones as a Key Platform for Security Industry, originally posted in Security Magazine’s eNewsletter in November 2014.


Guardly Learning Hub

Alas. It’s arrived.
The Guardly Learning Hub is a destination for security leaders and professionals to gain access to an ever-growing collection of resources that help to educate, inform, answer questions and plan your next generation physical security systems.

Available Today

Today, the Guardly Learning Hub comes loaded with a variety of self-serve, industry-relevant White Papers, Case Studies, Videos, Audits, this blog and a Knowledge Base consisting of Guardly-related Q&A.
There are also interactive learning opportunities. The Learning Hub offers group Webinars and an option to request a private demo with a Guardly Solutions Consultant.
And we’ll be adding lots more content in 2015!

How can we serve you better?

What are some of your biggest challenges? What are knowledge gaps that you face in terms of technology? Security systems design? Integration? We want to know so that we can research those questions for you and provide you with information that can help you do your job better. Please leave your recommendations in the comments section below.

How do you like consuming content?

Do you prefer to read white papers? Longer eBooks? Shorter blog posts? Do you prefer to watch video? Interactive webinars? One on one chat? Let us know so that we can produce content in ways that are most useful, accessible and helpful to you! Again, please leave your preferences in the comments section below.


Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a new “Crime in the United States” report covering 2013. Data for 2014 will be released in early 2015.

The report indicates that there were 1,163,146 violent crimes in the US (estimated at 368 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants), a rate that decreased by 4.4% between 2012 and 2013. The 2013 crime clock statistics show that a violent crime occurred in the US every 27.1 seconds in 2013 – including a murder every 37 minutes, a rape every 6.6 minutes, a robbery every 1.5 minutes and an aggravated assault every 43.5 seconds.

Though these numbers sound alarming (and they are), the US actually saw declines in each of these violent crimes categories in 2013:

  • Murder and non-negligent manslaughter – 4.4% decline
  • Rape – 6.3% decline
  • Aggravated Assault – 5% decline
  • Robbery – 2.8% decline

Arrest rates for violent crimes in 2013 were reported as follows:

  • Murder and non-negligent manslaughter – 3.4 per 100,000 inhabitants
  • Rape - 5.5 per 100,000 inhabitants
  • Aggravated Assault - 118.8 per 100,000 inhabitants
  • Robbery - 32.0 per 100,000 inhabitants

The Uniform Crime Reporting program streamlines the collection of this information and offers the following definitions of these violent crimes:

  • Criminal Homicide:
    • Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter: The willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. Deaths caused by negligence, attempts to kill, assaults to kill, suicides, and accidental deaths are excluded. The program classifies justifiable homicides separately and limits the definition to: (1) the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty; or (2) the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.
    • Manslaughter by negligence: The killing of another person through gross negligence. Deaths of persons due to their own negligence, accidental deaths not resulting from gross negligence, and traffic fatalities are not included in the category manslaughter by negligence.
  • Rape (this definition was changed between 2012 and 2013): The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
  • Aggravated Assault: An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
    Note: Simple assaults are excluded.
  • Robbery: The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.

Violent Crimes in the United States (by Region)

The FBI report also released information about the breakdown of where these violent crimes were occurring across the US.

violent crime rates by region US 2013

Read and access the full FBI report here.


Enhances Ability for Security Teams to Detect Shooters Earlier and Locate People Inside Buildings

Toronto, Canada – November 6, 2014 – Today, Guardly announces that its Enterprise E911 solution for smartphones can now be used to improve response to active shooter threats. The solution is geared towards large private enterprises and uses indoor positioning and mobile apps to detect active shooters earlier, locate people and shooters indoors and streamline communication between people around the shooter and a security operations center. As indoor positioning is a more recent advancement in security industry technology, Guardly today also announced the availability of a new white paper detailing how indoor positioning technologies can be used to improve active shooter incident communications and outcomes.

“Indoor positioning technologies offer security leaders a remarkable opportunity to improve situational awareness and response for a number of threats including active shooters; even more powerful than what GPS technologies have provided the industry over the last decade,” said Josh Sookman, Guardly Founder. “As pioneers in indoor positioning and mobile safety solutions, we are dedicated to demonstrating how these technologies can be used to drive better incident outcomes.”

Guardly’s Enterprise E911 solution improves Active Shooter Response outcomes by helping security teams improve situational awareness these unpredictable and quickly evolving events. More specifically, the solution helps to more quickly identify shooters and their real-time position inside a building, identify where people are sheltered in place and help recommend when and where they should evacuate, and communicate more broadly with different stakeholder groups in real-time. The solution components include mobile safety apps, indoor positioning systems set up within key buildings (additional hardware not always required), and a command center interface that lets security teams interact with people during the evolving active shooter incident.

The new white paper, titled Improving Response During Active Shooter Incidents with Indoor Positioning Systems, examines 6 key tactical challenges faced by security leaders as they manage and respond to active shooter threats, and explores how indoor positioning technologies can provide strategic advantages. The white paper includes the opinions of a diverse set of past and present Chief Security Officers, and also provides a background on what indoor positioning technology is and how it works. The white paper is available immediately as a free download on the Guardly website.

About Guardly

Guardly’s Indoor Positioning System (IPS) transmits people’s floor and region positions inside buildings to security operators, significantly reducing incident response time. Guardly’s mobile safety and security solutions for enterprise organizations and campuses, property management and retail customers leverage the latest cloud, mobile, indoor positioning and real-time technologies, redefining crisis communication management. Guardly mobile security applications broadcast indoor and GPS location, and support two-way communication by phone and secure text with security operators. For Security Operations Centers, Guardly provides an integrated platform for incident monitoring and response, helping security operators make faster and more effective decisions. To learn more about Guardly, please visit:

This press release was covered by SourceSecurity and Security Today, amongst other media outlets.


Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a study on 160 Active Shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 – 2013. The results are discouraging, as both the frequency of active shooter events as well as as the number of casualties have drastically increased in recent years compared with the first 5 years of the study.


Key Facts Reported in the 2014 FBI Study

Facts about Active Shooter Incidents

  • An average of 11.4 incidents occurred annually.
  • An average of 6.4 incidents occurred in the first 7 years studied, and an average of 16.4 occurred in the last 7 years.
  • 70.0% of the incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment.
  • Shootings occurred in 40 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 60.0% of the incidents ended before police arrived.




Facts about Active Shooter Casualties

  • Casualties (victims killed and wounded) totaled 1,043. The individual shooters are not included in this total.
  • A total of 486 individuals were killed.
  • A total of 557 individuals were wounded.
  • In 64 incidents (40.0%), the crime would have fallen within the federal definition of “mass killing”—defined as “three or more” killed—under the new federal statute.

Facts about Active Shooters

  • All but 2 incidents involved a single shooter.
  • In at least 9 incidents, the shooter first shot and killed a family member(s) in a residence before moving to a more public location to continue shooting.
  • In at least 6 incidents, the shooters were female.
  • In 64 incidents (40.0%), the shooters committed suicide; 54 shooters did so at the scene of the crime.
  • At least 5 shooters from 4 incidents remain at large.

An active shooter situation can escalate quickly, and will often overwhelm civilians and security teams alike. Just a few months ago, there was an incident where a car fire was mistaken for an active shooter at a shopping mall. We took a deeper dive into the details of the incident, and examine how newer forms of technology might help improve communication and locate people inside buildings requiring help from security and responding law enforcement officials. The situational analysis can be accessed here.

The press release issued by the FBI can be found here.
The study released by the FBI can be found here.

This post is paraphrased from an original article written by Michael O’Dwyer at Forbes.
Read the full post here.

The future of innovation for policing and security are deeply rooted in the adoption and integration of mobile, wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Associations like the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) are already thinking about frameworks and considerations for adopting these technologies. More exciting, forward-thinking policing forces like NYPD and LAPD are doing active trials of on-body cameras and Google Glass respectively.

On reporting crime, Todd Greene, Founder and CEO of PubNub says, “One key advantage of connected devices is allowing citizens to more easily participate in the law enforcement process.” Guardly is also discussed by Greene, in context of enabling devices to communicate instantly with each other, to let citizens report incidents or emergencies to law enforcement.

Tagged with:

The following is the first in a new, ongoing series of real-world situation analyses, where we analyze recent emergency events in the news and suggest ways in which communication and response to these events could have been altered, thereby potentially mitigating damage to people and physical assets.

  • Event:
  • Car fire at a mall mistaken for gun shots, leads to widespread panic and several minor injuries
  • Location:
    Garden State Mall – Paramus, New Jersey, USA
  • Date:
    Saturday, May 10, 2014
  • Time:
    8 PM to 10 PM
  • Emergency Type:
  • Applicable Guardly Technologies:
    Inbound Alerting System, Indoor Positioning System, Mobile Mass Notification System


Timeline of Recorded Events








  • 8:09 PM

    A car caught fire outside the Macy’s store in the mall, and smoke started entering the mall. At some point, police received calls from people saying they heard loud noises that could have been shots. The sounds were believed to be the car bursting into flames, but shoppers were convinced otherwise at first.

    “It sounded like a gunshot,” one man said. But there was never any concrete evidence of a person shooting, police said. “Nobody saw any gunman. Nobody saw anybody shooting anything,” Police said. But a panic ensued as people began saying they had heard shots fired, and they began storming out in the mall from the Macy’s all the way to the movie theater at the mall.

    “We saw everyone running and panicking towards our way. We didn’t know what to do, so we went into a store,” another man said. Some shoppers ran through the stores shouting a warning. “This woman came running down screaming and shouting: ‘There’s a shooter in the store! Get out! Get out! Get out!’” a woman said.

  • There were two immediate shopper reactions: Those nearest the exits to the parking lots got out as fast as they could, while others inside stores were temporarily locked in — some of them cowering in dressing rooms and restrooms until officers got them out. Police evacuated most of the mall soon afterward, while some stores went into lockdown. A small number of people suffered minor injuries as they slipped and fell in the mall. “We have no gunman. We have no confirmation that there were any shots fired,” Police said.
  • 10 PM

    The mall was closed and police were completing the evacuation process. An investigation into the incident commenced.


Source: CBS New York

How Guardly Could Help Optimize Emergency Communications & Response

The following is a simulated timeline-specific breakdown of how Guardly’s technologies could enhance incident notification, communication & response times, while minimizing the widespread confusion and injuries experienced in this situation:

  • 8:09 PM

    “A car caught fire outside the Macy’s store in the mall, and smoke started entering the mall.”

    The first mall employee to witness the fire takes out their smartphone and triggers a Guardly alert that instantly notifies Security Operations that there is an ongoing emergency, the type of emergency (fire), and the exact indoor location (floor and region) or outdoor location (GPS) of the employee that triggered the alert, which Security can track in real-time for the duration of the alert.

    A Security Operator engages in a 2-way conversation with the employee, determines the cause of the incident, and contacts the fire department. During this conversation, the employee has sent a picture of the fire to the Operator, which he/she will be able to send out to all guards, retail tenants and employees in a mass notification.

    Note: If a second mall employee triggers an alert indicating that there is an active shooter (based only on the gunshot-sounding noises they’ve heard), Security Operations would be able to communicate more effectively with each person (and potentially engage with mall cameras in those locations) to determine the true cause for alarm by these employees – a fire or an active shooter.

  • 8:10 PM

    Mall Security Operator dispatches a response unit to the scene and calls in the Paramus Fire Department.

  • 8:11 PM

    Mall Security Operator sends a secure instant message to the employee to calmly evacuate the premises, and that help is on the way.

  • 8:12 – 8:15 PM

    Mall Security Operator sends geo-targeted mass notifications to guards and mall employees and group-based mass notifications to retail tenants and employess based on their location in the mall informing them that the actual cause was a fire, not a shooter, as well as specific procedural instructions, floor plans with evacuation routes (if applicable to them) and the picture of the fire.

    Since the cause for alarm was a fire outdoors, there need not be a full evacuation of the mall and certain businesses can remain open for business rather than in a lockdown or shelter-in-place procedure – which means no revenue losses need to be incurred by businesses unaffected by the incident. For example, employees in Zone A (closest to fire) are notified first with a message informing them that the emergency is a car fire and directing them to evacuate all employees and customers to a specified area. All other mall employees and tenants are notified second with a message informing them that there is a car fire near Zone A: since they are unaffected, business can carry-on as usual in the rest of the mall.

  • 8:15 – 8:45 PM

    Affected employees and customers are safely evacuated from the premises, and the Fire Department has put out the car fire.

    During this time, replies to the mass notification have been submitted by retail tenants and employees informing the mall Security Operator of any disabled or elderly people the require special help to be evacuated in specific areas of the mall. The reply feature is used here to pinpoint where they are exactly within the mall and responders are sent to those areas to assist in evacuation.

  • 8:45 PM

    With an improved level of communications and emergency response, the mall may in fact be able to forgo an entire mall closure (as previously described), and instead may only need to close off the affected area for investigation purposes. For the investigation process, a complete log of all triggers, events, messages, locations, and timelines has already been automatically generated within the Guardly system and dashboard for Security Operations to easily access via any web browser to assist with the investigation, as well as emergency response preparedness assessments.


Before reviewing the specifics of the areas in which emergency response to this situation could have improved, it’s important to note that for events such as this one, there are many facets that factor into how response to the situation will unfold. These are situations of high magnitude and severity, and while technology is a major part of the overall package, it is not a replacement for education and training in how to respond to an active shooter or other scenarios that may arise at a mall. There is opportunity to align education and training with technology to improve emergency preparedness, readiness and overall incident outcomes in threatening situations.

Areas of Optimization

  1. Estimated time saved: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  2. By triggering the Guardly alert, the employee was able to notify the Security Operator from their current location – no need to get to a landline or emergency call box – and the Operator was provided with location, critical incident information, and a picture of the event. The Security Operator was then able to notify the fire department faster.
  3. Using mobile mass notification, the Security Operator was able to send curated notifications to retail tenants and employees depending on their locations – reducing confusion, panic, and possibility for injury.
  4. Retail tenants and employees are made aware that the emergency event is a fire and not a shooter, which becomes critically important, as emergency procedures are vastly different for the two situations. If it’s an active shooter scenario, retail tenants and employees generally must engage in lockdown or shelter-in-place procedures, but if the scenario is a fire, they must evacuate the premises immediately.
  5. For post-incident investigation, Guardly’s detailed event logs are instantly accessible from any web browser and from any device.
  6. Less business disruption for the mall tenants and therefore less lost sales.
  7. Less anxiety and potentially less injuries to people.
  8. Increased mall brand enhancement – advanced communications technologies provide the opportunity to “wow” everyone involved in the incident with the mall’s response.

As mentioned, this is our first post in our new Real-World Situation Analysis series! Like you, we’re always learning more about how these situations are handled. We’d love to hear your thoughts. What else could have been done differently to improve outcomes? Have you participated in an active shooter or large-scale fire drill recently and learned something new? Please share it with others in the comments below! Thanks for reading.


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