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The recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, have prompted questions from business and law enforcement experts in Dane County and around the state about whether technology can help curb future massacres.

It’s possible that rapid response tech can assist in protecting schools, public buildings and workplaces from active shooters, according to a panel of experts the Wisconsin Technology Council hosted as part of a Tuesday luncheon event. But tech makes up only a small part of a larger answer when it comes to mitigating and preventing the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S., the panel and one UW-Madison professor said.

The panel discussion comes as a June 22 New York Times report said that the U.S. saw 433 active shooter attacks — in which one or more active shooters killed or attempted to kill several people in a populated place — from 2000 to 2021.

Joe Hanson, Midwest regional director for sales and implementation for Critical Response Group, which specializes in the creation of mapping and visualization tech for schools, hospitals, businesses and other clients, said during the panel his company’s product can equip first responders with a “common operating picture” when a critical incident like a mass shooting occurs in a large building.

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The tech itself doesn’t prevent such incidents, but it provides a structure’s accurate layout, which can help locate an active shooter and save lives, said Hanson, who has an extensive military background.

“Communication is always the biggest point of friction (during critical incidents),” he said.

West Allis Police Chief Patrick Mitchell agreed, noting that Uvalde police officers took 74 minutes to neutralize the gunman at Robb Elementary School. Better means of communication could have prevented the 21 fatalities that occurred during the massacre on May 24, he said, adding that protecting wellbeing and safety of innocent civilians should be a public safety official’s highest priority.

When someone is wounded, the minutes it takes to transport them to a medical facility are critical, Mitchell said. In those situations, minutes can mean life or death.







Critical Response Group

A Critical Response Group demo map.




Ion Meyn, a UW-Madison associate professor of law who lectures on topics including civil rights and criminal law, said in a separate interview that stopping gun violence goes beyond technological advancements.

Prevention lies in research to better understand why shootings happen in the first place, as well as stricter gun control laws, and in some cases, outright bans, he said.

Any compromise on that front, Meyn said, involves asking “what level of unnecessary death are we going to live with?”

Local, state impact

With financial support from the state, CRG’s goal is to have its tech inside 400 Wisconsin school districts within the next few years, Hanson said in an interview.

The average cost for tech installations is roughly $3,000 or 2 cents every square foot, he said. CRG is currently in five states, including Texas.

Two school districts in Dane County already use CRG’s tech — both the Middleton-Cross Plains Area and Sun Prairie School District said in the last week that the tech has given them at least some peace of mind in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.

Safety grants from the Wisconsin Department of Justice allowed the Sun Prairie School District to purchase CRG’s product, said Nicholas Reichhoff, director of student policy and school operations.

“The detailed maps are GPS aligned and provide satellite imagery of the area surrounding the building,” he said. “Each map clearly identifies building access points, room labels, hallway names, stairwell numbers, and other key locations.”

“In addition to providing these to the district for our internal use, the maps are uploaded to a secure server that is accessible by local law enforcement when responding to critical incidents,” Reichhoff said. “This provides officers, especially those from agencies outside of Sun Prairie, the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the building to assist their response in the event of an emergency.”

Digest

  • Madison biomedical giant Exact Sciences has entered into a long-term supply agreement with California biotech company Ultima Genomics, according to Exact. Under the agreement’s terms, Ultima will provide Exact access to its various genetic sequencing technologies. That will help Exact develop advanced cancer diagnostic tests. The biomedical giant said it recently became an Ultima investor.
  • The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has opened applications for its 2022 Pressure Chamber startup initiative, which is slated to return on Aug. 16 during Wisconsin’s largest tech and entrepreneurship event, the Forward Festival. The winning company will meet with top Silicon Valley investment businesses in the fall, the Chamber said.
  • Madison’s Summit Credit Union recently became the top mortgage lender in Wisconsin, according to 2021 data collected under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. For more than a decade, Summit has been the top mortgage lender in Dane County, the company said.

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