Gunshot Detection Systems: The Latest Tool against Violent Crime
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
ShotSpotters at work
Using the latest in acoustic and computer technology, city police departments can now be alerted to shootings in their communities within minutes, thanks to a service provided by a company located thousands of miles away.
Based in Mountain View, California, ShotSpotter can detect gunfire on the other side of the country by picking up sounds from acoustic sensors placed on buildings, utility poles and other structures. Technicians then inform local police as to the exact location where shots were fired.
About 70 cities currently use ShotSpotter to help officers respond faster to potential crimes and help save lives. The service is not cheap, running anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 per square mile each year. Police officials in Oakland, California, say the investment is worthwhile and has led to the seizure of hundreds of weapons and a reduction in robberies.
ShotSpotter has its critics. Civil libertarians fear the acoustic technology can be used to eavesdrop on conversations, while some city leaders worry the expense of ShotSpotter leaves fewer dollars to pay for the police who must respond to the shootings detected by the technology.
To Learn More:
Shots Fired, Pinpointed and Argued Over (by Erica Goode, New York Times)
Shotspotter Lauded as Key Police Tool in Tracking Gunfire (by Harry Harris, Oakland Tribune)
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