Cutting out violent gunfire in some of America’s worst neighborhoods is a constant problem that might become a little bit easier with the help of technology. For the most part, police are dependent on somebody calling 9-1-1 when they hear gunshots, and sadly, that often times doesn’t happen in some of the more crime ridden areas. A new gunfire sensory technology though might just give the good guys an added advantage.
ShotSpotter is a gunfire detection technology that uses acoustic sensors to isolate the sound of gunfire and alert the police. The sensors are placed at 30-foot elevation under a mile apart. When shots are fired anywhere in the coverage area, ShotSpotter triangulates their location to within 10 feet and reports the activity to police.
Almost 70 percent of cites have begun using the crime-deterrent technology since it first launched in 2011. Right now the data on reported gun violence comes from three main sources: 9-1-1 calls, hospital reports from victims, and coroner’s reports. What goes overlooked are gunshots not called in by bystanders, and unfortunately in some areas less than 20% of gunshots get reported.
With gunfire up 50% higher in the second quarter of this year compared to the first quarter, it’s imperative that law enforcement know where and when this is happening. Police are hoping ShotSpotter will assist in this effort.
Naturally, the technology has its critics. It’s been criticized for failing to differentiate the sounds of a car backfiring or fireworks. Obviously, that kind of downfall is a headache for police departments. Still, the technology has aided in hundreds of criminal cases and helped secure at least one murder conviction. Technology like law enforcement isn’t always perfect, but every effort to provide safer streets should is worth exploring.