Acoustic Gunshot Detection, Detects Weapon Being Fired

Battelle Number: 30694, 31042 | N/A

Technology Overview

A relatively small device could mean the difference between life and death when a shooter opens fire. The award-winning Acoustic Gunshot Detection technology works in indoor environments, such as schools, office buildings, and other confined spaces. It’s also being modified for outdoor gatherings, such as concerts and festivals, and larger indoor environments, such as football stadiums and coliseums. Within a matter of seconds and with high accuracy, PNNL’s Acoustic Gunshot Detection technology distinguishes between loud noises that sound like gunfire and an actual gun being fired. The innovation then immediately alerts authorities of an active shooter and the location of the shooting. Using machine learning capabilities, researchers developed patented, mathematical algorithms that “trained” the suite of sophisticated sensors to not only identify a gunshot but also the caliber of the weapon.

Compatible with Security Systems

The Acoustic Gunshot Detection technology is battery-operated and can be inexpensively and easily incorporated into existing security systems. It is designed to be installed in each room, hallway, and common area inside of a building without requiring any facility modifications or electrical cables.

Engineered specifically with public schools in mind, the technology is easily integrated into larger security systems with hardware that performs accurate threat and firearm classification at a fraction of the battery capacity, computational power, and cost of today’s smartphones.

When a gunshot is fired, the Acoustic Gunshot Detection technology classifies the noise as an alarm/gunshot event. To the human ear, a firecracker might sound like a gunshot, but PNNL’s technology relies on mathematical algorithms—eliminating human error. After a gunshot event is detected and classified, information is wirelessly transmitted to a command center to initiate a response and alert first responders to the location, caliber of the weapon, and number of shots fired.

This system and algorithm were tested with live fire using a variety of common weapon types in environments similar to a school or government building.


Detects Weapon Being Fired and Its Caliber, Alerts Authorities

  • Discriminates between threat and non-threat with 99.99% accuracy.
  • Classifies between rifles and handguns in confined spaces with 99.7% accuracy.
  • Battery power and wireless connectivity provide ease of installation with minimal cost.
  • Acoustic data is analyzed on a low-cost, general-purpose computing platform that performs weapon classification.
  • Tested by several police departments and school systems across the United States
  • 2017 R&D 100 Award Winner, selected by R&D Magazine as part of the top 100 innovative scientific breakthroughs of the year
  • 2019 Winner of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Excellence in Technology Transfer.

State of Development

The system has been successfully deployed in schools. Presently, PNNL is engineering the Acoustic Gunshot Detection technology for use in large public buildings, such as airports, train and bus stations, football stadiums, coliseums, and large courthouses. It is available for licensing in all fields of use.


Available for licensing in all fields


Acoustic, Gunshot, Detection, Security, Safety


Market Sectors