ShotSpotter, as described by the New York Post, demonstrated the advanced level of data extraction made possible by modern technology. SST’s ShotSpotter is a tool that provides law enforcement with details of a shooting far more quickly than someone can place a call. Not only that, but the technology can pick up what type of weapon, how many weapons, how many gunshots, etc. While this is simply a tool to save gunshot victims, the technology is all around us, silently listening, and many would be none the wiser.
The semi-acoustic approach to modular listening is not exclusive to SST; the US military used similar technology for a decade or more. SST, though, began working under the Obama “Smart Cities” Initiative to build – naturally, smart cities. Through a new partnership with Amazon AWS and GE, SST aims to frontline the concept of smart cities. Saving the lives of gunshot victims is an innovative place to start, the company believes.
SST’s ShotSpotter, accompanying app, and rollouts succeeded in proving their value. So far, the company only rolled the technology out to a handful of cities in the US. However, many school campuses, theaters, public buildings, etc., implemented the technology as well. The following list summarizes every city that adopted ShotSpotter early on: Oakland & San Diego; Wilmington, North Carolina, Trenton, New Jersey; New York City; Parish, Louisiana, Birmingham, Alabama; Miami, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The technology installation proved unique. The company required the installation of 15-20 sound sensors per square mile in a city. Those always-on sensors needed to be “about” 30 feet off the ground, the NYP explained. Conveniently, the government and parts of the private sector installed phone lines and power poles at said height. ShotSpotter sensors are installed along those towers. Also on rooftops.
The technology comes with and inherently relies on specialized software. Any time a suspected gunshot triggers a sensor, the company’s proprietary software runs the sound bites and other recorded data through whatever algorithms needed. That data, if positive for an illegal gunshot, syncs with police software that lets them know what they need to prepare for.
There is a dedicated application for the technology as well. It provides the core data that a law enforcement officer can evaluate while in the field. They then evaluate the threat – is it real or a false positive? If it is real, the officer can see if a SWAT team is needed or if a couple of patrol cars can deal with the issue. And for or location, the company uses noise triangulation.
“This data is first filtered by sophisticated machine algorithms that are then further qualified by an expertly trained and staffed 24×7 Incident Review Center at ShotSpotter to insure the events are in fact gunfire. In addition, they can append the alert with any other critical intelligence such as whether a full automatic weapon was fired. This process takes less than 45 seconds between the actual shooting and the digital alert (with a precise location dot on a map) popping onto the screen of a computer in the”
After the gunshot, a human needs to confirm that it is in fact a gunshot. We might not disappear any time soon but technology like this continually matures.