In February, Tim Button got some of the worst news possible: His 15-year-old nephew Luke Hoyer had been killed in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since that terrible day, many of Luke’s surviving classmates have become prominent voices in the movement for tougher gun laws. But as the face-off over gun control intensified once more in the tragedy’s aftermath, Button received a sympathetic call from his friend Rick Crane, who suggested developing a perimeter security system in the style of an invisible fence. After some long discussions, they decided to create a company to harness the latest in high-tech security systems that, they hope, could detect potential shooters before they open fire.
The thought of leveraging immediate-technology solutions reflects both men’s professional backgrounds: Button owns a telecom company, and Crane is the director of sales, network security, and cloud management for a cloud-computing subsidiary of Dell Technologies. So far, their start-up, Shielded Students, has enlisted three security companies: an emergency-response coordination service and two companies that make gun-detection systems. One of these systems, developed by Patriot One Technologies in Canada, integrates a microwave radar scanner with a popular artificial-intelligence technique that is trained to identify guns and other hidden weapons. Shielded Students hopes to combine these and other solutions into a package that can help prevent another mass shooting like the one that killed Hoyer and 16 other people.