Transfer of PNNL’s Acoustic Gunshot Detection Technology to Security USA

Transfer of PNNL’s Acoustic Gunshot Detection Technology to Security USA

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL) acoustic gunshot detection technology provides a method of instantaneously detecting a gunshot indoors with a high degree of accuracy, providing information on the weapon type (caliber) and, depending on configuration, the location of the gunshot. This information, coupled with a notification, can be helpful in enabling first responders to take swift action, initiating emergency and law enforcement response measures.

The wireless technology includes a microcontroller, an algorithm, a miniature microphone, and a military-grade battery that are all contained in a small case. In most instances, just one sensor can monitor an entire classroom, hallway, or cafeteria. Compared to other detection systems, the technology can be used to distinguish between actual gunshots and other loud sounds with a high level of accuracy.

PNNL recognized that  the acoustic sensors it developed for other federal government applications could readily be adapted to potentially limit loss of life during mass shooting events. The team protected the intellectual property and secured internal funds to further develop a test prototype gunshot sensor and a weapon caliber classification algorithm. PNNL then worked with federal and local agencies to test the technology in real-world settings. The first licensee, Security USA Services, LLC (Security USA), replaced its original detectors with those developed by PNNL in its prototypes. PNNL’s technology offered a low-cost solution that is battery-powered and wirelessly connected, rendering it significantly easier and less expensive to install and use than the company’s earlier device, and perhaps more attractive for schools with limited funds.

Once PNNL had tested this detection technology in real-world settings, it pursued limited exclusivity licensing that allowed for four concurrently active licenses available to facilitate broad deployment of the technology in the marketplace. Security USA signed a license agreement with PNNL in March 2017 and now has a product in the market. In October 2017, the innovation was licensed to a second firm, Eagle Integrated Systems, which is developing a product. Later, media reports on the technology and a prestigious national award generated significant interest, leading to negotiations with two additional licensees.

A number of Security USA customers received the improved Emergency Automatic Gunshot Lockdown (EAGL) system in 2018. EAGL introduced a new detection and notification capability to their facilities, potentially increasing occupant safety and perhaps deterring shooting incidents. From an economic perspective, licensing PNNL’s technology enabled Security USA to hire 12 new employees to facilitate the product release. The company has sold approximately 25 systems (1,000 sensors) to date, and has an impressive backlog of pending orders.

Contact: James Skorpik, (509) 375-2168,

Award Year: 
Far West