I recently enjoyed the New York Times story, Shots Fired, Pinpointed and Argued Over, featuring Erica Goode’s account of the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system in action. The article does a great job of calling attention to the success of the company’s collaboration with police forces, which in turn is creating safer communities.
For instance, less than four minutes after gunshots were detected by the ShotSpotter technicians in Mountain View, California the Milwaukee Wisconsin police were able to aid a 15-year-old gunshot victim. I was amazed at how starkly this contrasted with a situation BEFORE ShotSpotter was deployed in Oakland. A police sergeant there– Chris Bolton of the Oakland Police Department–said to the New York Times that patrol officers responding to gunfire then “could spend up to 30 minutes driving within, I would say, three to four blocks of a location, just to make sure there isn’t a victim in need of assistance.”
It’s encouraging to know that in San Francisco neighborhoods such as Bayview-Hunter’s Point, where ShotSpotter is now used, less than 10 percent of gunfire detected by the system is accompanied by a 911 call– concrete proof of the technology’s merits.
Reducing the response time in these situations can be life-saving. Moreover, as the company continues to drive down the cost at which their system is available, I believe that it will become even more integral to the work of law enforcement. As a board member, I see the practical benefits of Shotspotter and its increased use– in almost 70 US cities to date–as indicators that the technology is revolutionizing the approach to reducing crime.
Many kudos to ShotSpotter on their continued success.