ShotSpotter

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Yard Dart, Oct 10, 2017.


  1. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

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

    [​IMG]

    Terrell Ortiz was sitting in the passenger seat of his white Nissan Altima parked in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, when a man suspected of being a rival gang member walked up to Ortiz’s window, shot him multiple times, and fled.

    At the same moment, three rooftop microphones picked up the sounds of the shots and sent them to a computer at the New York Police Dept. and to a person in California. Together, they confirmed the noises, figured out their location, and dispatched police within minutes.

    Ortiz, 26, was rushed to a nearby hospital and later pronounced dead. The shooter was never found.

    11 feet away
    The technology responsible for alerting the NYPD to Ortiz’s shooting is known as ShotSpotter, whose 16-year-old parent company went public on June 7. In more than 90 cities across the US, including New York, microphones placed strategically around high-crime areas pick up the sounds of gunfire and alert police to the shooting’s location via dots on a city map.

    The technology builds on existing surveillance tools, many of which are aging, grainy-video cameras that don’t record sound and produce footage officers review only after a crime has been committed. ShotSpotter also sends alerts to apps on cops’ phones.

    “We’ve gone to the dot and found the casings 11 feet from where the dot was, according to the GPS coordinates,” Capt. David Salazar of the Milwaukee Police Dept. told Business Insider. “So it’s incredibly helpful. We’ve saved a lot of people’s lives.”

    When three microphones pick up a gunshot, ShotSpotter figures out where the sound comes from. Human analysts in the Newark, California, headquarters confirm the noise came from a gun (not a firecracker or some other source). The police can then locate the gunshot on a map and investigate the scene. The whole process happens “much faster” than dialing 911, Salazar said, though he wouldn’t disclose the exact time.

    [​IMG]A screen of a ShotSpotter alert. ShotSpotter

    Playing ‘Moneyball’ with crime
    In theory, this allows departments to do a couple things. On the one hand, it lets them respond more quickly to isolated incidents. But it also lets them deploy more resources in areas with “serial shooters,” or small clusters of criminals who make up the bulk of a given area’s crime, according to ShotSpotter CEO Ralph Clark.

    But as Ortiz’s death and his assailant’s getaway highlight, the company still struggles to sell its value in concrete terms. It’s up to individual departments to collect and analyze their own data, and not all agencies take as much initiative as the MPD.

    Some data indicate the technology still needs fine-tuning. Last year, Forbes discovered through a data analysis of more than two-dozen cities using the program, in 30% to 70% of cases, police found no evidence of a gunshot when they arrived.

    Still, Clark says the program’s greatest value comes in its ability to deter people from committing gun violence in the future. In a recent blog post, he compared ShotSpotter to the story of “Moneyball,” in which pro baseball teams systematically overvalue certain traits in their players. In Clark’s analogy, homicides are home runs (overrated) and crime deterrence is on-base percentage (underrated).

    “Our view is that when police show up quickly and precisely to every single gunfire event it sends a powerful signal to those otherwise tormented residents,” Clark wrote. “Each time the police show up to a gunfire incident, whether or not they make an arrest, they increase their [on-base percentage].”

    Saving lives is worth millions
    Clark says this approach has been effective enough for departments to renew their contracts with the company.

    “They’re getting value out of it,” Clark told Business Insider. “It’s aiding their investigations. It’s enabling them to better serve communities by better showing up.”

    Salazar has been using ShotSpotter in Milwaukee since 2010. Previously, his department discovered just 16% of gunshot cases led to 911 calls. He knew he needed a better way to determine where shots were coming from.

    “You can’t do something about something you don’t know about,” he said. “We found out we didn’t know about a lot.”

    Salazar says ShotSpotter has helped Milwaukee police save lives, but the real benefit is helping the department deploy officers when and where they’re needed most. That, he says, is what made the millions in taxpayer dollars worth spending.

    “Everybody wants to run up the hill and punch the guy in the nose who’s shooting a gun off,” Salazar said. “But to go there at nine in the morning, when nothing’s going on, and go talk to the people in the neighborhood who have lived there for the last 15 years … that’s where you can really make a difference. That’s where you can do some targeting.”

    ‘Big Brother’
    Salazar says some may view the high costs as a waste of funds for what, to them, amounts to a toy with mere dots on a screen. But to get real value out of it, he said agencies must be willing to use the data, not just collect it. The technology alone can’t know how many lives it saves.

    Clark of ShotSpotter says that’s not how it’s designed anyway.

    “You’ll never, ever hear me say ShotSpotter is solely responsible for reductions in gun violence,” Clark said. “We can’t make that claim. There are a lot of things that go into a successful gun-violence-abatement strategy.”

    Residents of the New York neighborhood where Terrell Ortiz was shot expressed mixed feelings that a technology like ShotSpotter would be an effective crime-fighting tool. While Jose Rodriguez, a 46-year-old deli manager, shrugged off the sensors, calling them “a good thing,” 60-year-old Felix Pizarro, who called himself the “mayor” of his block, said that neighbors who know one another and are friendly produce a safer environment than microphones on a roof.

    “I don’t like Big Brother being in all my business,” Pizarro said.
     
  2. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor Site Supporter+

    In the cities, as a crime fighting tool, I have absolutely no problem with this. 1st off cities for the most parts have laws that make it illegal to discharge a firearm within the city limits unless in the case of self defense. This would not work well in rural areas where people discharge firearms legally for many reasons 24/7365. If used there the LEOs would get run ragged and either demand their removal, or like the story of the boy who cried wolf, they would ignore the calls generated by them. Some may disagree and have valid reasons I have not considered as why this "crime fighting tool" should not be used.
     
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  3. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey++

    I have close ties to Chicago and visit there often, and I've seen these devices around town. For what it's worth, they are not discreet. They are very clearly marked with the police logo and even have blue lights on them. Everyone knows what they are and where they are. Some large institutions such as hospitals and schools have installed their own units.

    With Chicago's legendary violent gun crime rate, I'm not sure if the ShotSpotters actually reduce crime or if the murders would be even worse without them. It's hard to imagine life in Chicago if the crime was worse. When I go there, I stick to the Wicker Park/Bucktown areas (safe, upscale neighborhoods), or Michigan Ave/State St/Millenium Park/Grant Park (tourist spots with heavy security). Even then, my guard is up and I always have an escape plan. I carry a gun when I can but there are a lot of places where it's not allowed.

    I'm not convinced of the efficacy of the ShotSpotters, especially for what they cost. It would seem to me they don't deter crime or help solve crimes, they just make the gangbangers move to an area that's not monitored and commit the same crimes they would anyway.
     
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  4. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    The time delay is troublesome too. Several minutes until the cops show. So, victim is dead and perps are gone.
    Where is the value in that?
     
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  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator

    I have heard of this and often wondered if it really was an effective tool.
    I guess this is why officials like it. This gives them info that the public usually will not disclose.
     
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  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    The thing folks need to remember is that LEOs are ALWAYS an "After the Fact" presents, when it comes to these kinds of shootings... When you Need LEOs in Seconds they are ALWAYS minutes away... and when you need them in Minutes, they are Hours away.... They just come in and clean up the Bodies, and Brass....
     
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  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I wonder if the technology can differentiate between a vehicle backfire, fire crackers, other explosive fireworks and gunshots? What about gunshots muffled by a suppressor?
     
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yes it can, IF, the rounds are NOT SubSonic.... If they are Subsonic then it doesn't do nearly as well as that differntialization
    .... The software Looks specifically for the SuperSonic Crack sound....
     
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  9. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19

    Exactly what I was going to say. The nearest cop is only as close as the nearest donut store.
     
  10. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    How about Los Vegas and the shooter(s) at the Mirage?
     
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Not used in Vegas, as far as I know... the Sheriff would be ALL over it if it were active in Vegas...
     
  12. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    My thoughts exactly.
    Whether a person is found dead 8 minutes after they are shot or the next day they're still just as dead. I see no value to the public in this. Just another expensive kewl tool in the JBT kit that taxpayers have to pay for.
     
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  13. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Monkey++

    Well, one gangsta' DOA and another on the run! I'm satisfied with its level of efficiency!
     
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  14. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    I think the intent is to vector in police response due to the faster intel, to reduce response times to shootings..... I suppose it is a management issue if they see the "report" but they put the response on a lower tasking.
     
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  15. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Even if it saved just one life.... :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
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  16. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Monkey++

    For the children!!!
     
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  17. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    This will all ways be true until we get mind police....

    LEO's are trying to become more proactive fighting crime... People are now pulling out phones to record crime and not calling to help the victim. Not everyone can or should be carrying a weapon (not to say that many don't anyway). The system at least can be used to determine "Hot Spots" for more frequent foot patrols, crime prevention strategies, and task forces.
     
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  18. 44044

    44044 Monkey+++

    Would that money be better spent just

    putting more cops on the streets?...
     
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  19. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Monkey++

    Yeah, but cops like their toys!
     
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  20. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    The more publicity of the device and you will find people looking for ways to defy it.
     
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