Gunshot detection technology as part of smart city design

Source: TechRepublic on November 22, 2016 | Teena Maddox

When a gunshot is fired in an urban area, it's often difficult for responding police officers to determine exactly where it was located and how dangerous the situation might be. But surveillance technology from ShotSpotter allows cities to triangulate gunfire within 10 feet of where it happened and determine how many shooters there are before the police arrive on the scene.

ShotSpotter can be installed as a standalone device, and discreetly located on rooftops and other out of sight areas to prevent tampering. ShotSpotter's software can also be included in sensors installed in GE's smart streetlights with Current by GE.

This is part of Current's IoT platform within cities. The first version came out last year, and the second-generation sensor is launching early next year, said Austin Ashe, general manager of Intelligent Cities at Current.

"When we launch our product next year it will be 'ShotSpotter ready.' We call it 'ShotSpotter ready' because the city still needs to go to ShotSpotter and say, 'Hey, we want to turn on this service," Ashe said. "We are already integrating ShotSpotter into nodes. This is the next generation."

Current's sensors in smart streetlights will also have environmental, parking, and traffic nodes to provide data to cities for real-time analysis. The sensors already had a gunshot detection node being added, but it was missing some of the essential elements that ShotSpotter provides, including the ability to instantly calculate where the gunshot came from and how many shooters there are, Ashe said.

"We talked about ShotSpotter putting their technology on our node. That way when we deploy our sensors throughout a city, the city can literally turn on a switch through the ShotSpotter app and get gunshot detection in a much broader coverage than just the gun violence area of a city. It expands the entire gun detection network," Ashe explained.

ShotSpotter has a new mobile app that extends ShotSpotter with real-time gunfire alerts so that police officers will have access to the service beyond the dispatch office or squad car.

Ralph Clark, CEO of ShotSpotter, said, "The thing we've come to know about gun violence is it's significantly underrecorded. Where we're deployed we know that about 80% of gunfire does not get reported by traditional means such as 911. Even when those calls do come in, they come in 20-30 minutes after the shots are fired."

"We completely changed that narrative by reporting on all outdoor gunfire. Instead of 10-20%, we report 100%, and we send a very precise location and in near-real time and we're providing context, such as multiple rounds being fired or a multiple shooter situation, which is a critically important aspect," Clark said.

The way the device works, Clark explained, is to "think of a sensor as a computer with a couple of additional components on it. A GPS chip and a machine-to-machine cellular chip on it to provide communication to cloud-based infrastructure. It obviously has a couple of microphones on it, analog and digital converters, a processor, storage, and memory. It's a traditional computer platform. The most important component is the time stamp that comes from the GPS chip because it gives us very precise time in a very precise location."

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