Police often have a hard time stopping crimes committed with guns, but now they have new technology to help them. The technology known as ShotSpotter is still in the testing phrase, but will soon be employed in New York City. The system tells police the location of where a shot was fired, along with the time that it was fired.
SST Incorporated who owns the technology is from Newark, California. It relies on a very strong microphone and other equipment to determine exactly where the sound came from. In most cases, the system can determine the location of a gunshot within 30 feet. The system can even help police determine the cause of the sound, because many gunshot calls to police turn out to be cars backfiring or fireworks.
The system is already employed in several United States cities. One of the first to use it was Oakland, California, where the system recorded more than 1,900 gunshots in 2013. The police determined that none of these guns was shot legally.
Another city using the technology is South Bend, Indiana. Since installing the technology in January 2014, the technology has recorded 250 shots in one of the city’s highest crime areas. Police officers in South Bend are particularly impressed with the technology’s ability to show them where high-powered firearms are being shot on a regular basis. Police say this is often hard to determine, but can be an important indication of when an individual is fixing to commit a murder. Since installing the technology, police have been able to find over 40 percent more illegal guns than they officers did when they were relying only on citizen’s reports.
The technology needed for this system is not new, but the sensors that the system relies on are much stronger and more accurate than ever before. The system relies on wireless technology. In the highest crime areas, the city needs to install about 20 sensors per square mile. The technology independently verifies each reported gunshot before police are alerted.
SST Incorporated says the system has also had some unintended consequences. One of these consequences is that citizens are more apt to share information with officers when they see them actively investigating gunshots in their neighborhood.
Some residents, however, are concerned about the new technology. They say that it is an invasion of privacy. They also say that legislators need to pass rules to regulate how the technology can be used.