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ShotSpotter Wins $23 Million Contract for Intelligent Gunshot Detection

ShotSpotter Wins $23 Million Contract for Intelligent Gunshot Detection

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It is effective in reducing random gunfire. Surveys conducted for the DOJ showed it was most effective as a “perception” of action. Using common data-networking methods, alerts of the discharges can be conveyed to dispatch centers, commanders, and field-based personnel, allowing them to make an immediate assessment of severity and initiate appropriate and decisive force response.

There’s a secret technology in 90 US cities that listens for gunfire 24/7

ShotSpotter has been on Durham’s radar for a few years – the company prepared a proposal for the city about two years ago under former Mayor Bill Bell. Durham’s current police chief worked with the company during her time at the Atlanta Police Department, though the city didn’t implement the technology until after her departure. Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton has been advocating for the council to consider ShotSpotter since running for his seat in 2017, after seeing the technology in action as part of a delegation that went to Boston to learn about policing. In an effort to curb gun violence, the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) has requested the city fund a motion to double the amount of public CCTV cameras and introduce a controversial audio recording technology that provides police with real-time shooting locations.

“We feel that this will allow us to expand our shot detection and also add in other type of sound detection,” Police Chief Jack Angelo said. (TNS) — The city will soon have a new gunshot detection system that covers more of Canton for less than the cost of ShotSpotter. Durham City Council members discussed implementing gunshot detection technology during their work session Thursday, but left without a consensus on whether it’s worth the investment.

These neural networks can then be trained as “recognizers” of a target sound, like a gunshot, even in the presence of high noise. Electro-optical detection systems currently tested (2011) can process the incoming shot signatures at very fast speeds, providing an excellent method not only to discriminate between weapon firings and other non-gunshot events but also to identify categories, characteristics, and sometimes specific weapon types automatically. Over the past three years, the Durham Police Department has averaged 2,356 shots fired calls per year, according to the city. Now the City Council is considering gunfire detection sensors, but not all are convinced. Since June 2013, the city has used ShotSpotter to detect gunfire.

“ShotSpotter was just another prong in that implementation in that use of technology to make the campus safer,” says John Buckovich, chief of the department of public safety at SCAD. About a year ago the campus started using LiveSafe, an app that allows students to send footage and texts to campus police if they see something suspicious. A New York Times article from 2012 that compared the gunshot detection device to body cameras, GPS trackers and license plate scanners reported on a murder case in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where ShotSpotter recorded a conversation that took place just before the shooting. A debate brewed over whether the audio would be admissible in court.

Infrared detection systems have a similar advantage at night because the sensor does not have to contend with any solar contributions to the background signal. At night, the signature of the gunshot will not be partially hidden within the background of solar infrared contributions. Most flash suppressors are designed to minimize the visible signature of the gunfire. Flash suppressors break up the expanding gases into focused cones, thereby minimizing the blossoming effect of the exploding gasses.

He said if it weren’t for Shotspotter, police wouldn’t have known about 92 percent of the incidents in November. A “gunfire incident” isn’t just a single shot. If multiple shots are fired in a short period in the same location, that counts as a single incident. Dailly, southeast director for ShotSpotter, said the technology is intended to give police a more precise location of gunfire, get them to the scene faster, and capture gunfire incidents that don’t get called in to 911.

Gabbard said the technology would be used by the department’s real-time crime center, which is not yet staffed 24/7, as is the goal. The department’s crime analyst and investigators would be trained on the system, which could be connected to the department’s existing cameras. Unlike ShotSpotter, the city will own the Wi-Fiber devices and could more easily move them. Angelo said the largest unit is a technology-outfitted street lamp but other audio and video devices would be smaller and less noticeable.

Acoustic-only based systems typically generate their alerts a few seconds slower than optical sensing systems because they rely on the propagation of sound waves. Therefore, the sound reaching a sensor 1 mile from its origin will take almost 5 seconds. A few seconds to accommodate pickup from distant sensors and to discern the number of rounds fired, often an indicator of incident severity, are both tolerable and a drastic improvement for typical police dispatching scenarios when compared against the several minutes that elapse from when an actual discharge occurs to the cumulative time of several minutes that pass when a person decides to place a 9-1-1 call and that information is captured, processed, and dispatched to patrol officers. The combination of both approaches (acoustic and infrared) assists in overcoming each system’s own limitations while improving the overall capability to eliminate false declarations of gunshots and/or ambiguous declaration locations. Even when these combined systems are employed, shots fired from far enough away will not be detected because the amount of gunshot signal (both acoustic and Infrared) eventually fades into the background signals.

  • Like other acoustic sensing systems, they are fundamentally based on the physics of acoustics, but they analyze the physical acoustic data using a neural network.
  • Flash suppressors break up the expanding gases into focused cones, thereby minimizing the blossoming effect of the exploding gasses.
  • Acoustic systems “listen” for either the bullet bow shockwave (the sound either of the projectile or bullet as it passes through the air), the sound of the muzzle blast of the weapon when it fires the projectile, or a combination of both.

He said about 60 percent of gunshot victims leave the scene of the shooting and many of those do not cooperate with investigators. ShotSpotter, he said, gives police the location of a crime scene even if a victim does not want to reveal it.

These focused cones contain more of the signature in a smaller volume. The added signal strength helps to increase detection range. Optical flashes can be detected using optical and/or infrared sensing techniques; however there must be a line of sight from the sensor to the weapon, otherwise the flash will not be seen. Indirect flashes that bounce off nearby structures such as walls, trees, and rocks assist in exposing concealed or limited line-of-sight detections between the weapon and the sensor.

ShotSpotter Respond 4+

The effectiveness of the technology, however, is up for debate. According to a 2016 investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting, out of 3,000 ShotSpotter alerts in San Francisco over a two-and-a-half-year period, only two resulted in an arrest and only one was gun related.

ShotSpotter’s (SSTI) CEO Ralph Clark on Q2 2019 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

Schlossberg, Tatiana, “New York Police Begin Using ShotSpotter System to Detect Gunshots”, New York Times, March 16, 2015. The technology was tested in Redwood Village, a neighborhood of Redwood City, CA, in April 1996. Through 2007, the manufacturer touted the device as having benefits, but local officials were split as to its effectiveness.

Most police related systems can be permanently mounted, mapped and correlated as the sensors remain in place for long periods. Military and SWAT actions, on the other hand, operate in more dynamic environments requiring a fast setup time or a capability to operate while the sensors are on move. Multiple gunshots, fired from multiple locations at nearly the same time, are easily discriminated as separate gunshots because the sensors generally utilize a focal plane array consisting of many sensitive pixels. Each pixel in the entire focal plane (e.g. 640×480 pixels) is constantly evaluated. Lahr decided to go ahead with his plans to demonstrate the feasibility of locating the gunshots, relying on his background in the earthquake location techniques and monitoring in Alaska.

Canton Police Department and Wi-Fiber officials on Monday presented the new system to Canton City Council, which authorized the mayor or safety director to enter contracts and implement the system. The technology operates on its own wireless network and involves units with audio and video technology. Some also will have license plate readers. The city has used ShotSpotter to detect gunfire since June 2013, but officials are now heading in a different direction, opting for a less expensive solution that can be more widely deployed throughout the city. Civil rights advocates have also questioned how the devices could be misused as part of a larger system of surveillance, and whether they could record more than gunshots; ShotSpotter says its devices pick up just a few seconds of audio around “short, explosive” sounds like gunfire.

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