Meet the Surveillance Technology Installed in Cities Across the Country
Meet the new surveillance technology currently installed in over 90 cities across the country! ShotSpotter uses acoustic surveillance technology to detect gunfire and alert police almost immediately. It’s eerily accurate. But then again, we’re living in an Aldous Huxley novel so why wouldn’t this be the only logical next step?
So how does it work? Well let’s say a city decides they want to utilize this new surveillance technology. First they install anywhere from 15 to 20 sensors in the area law enforcement wants to monitor. Sensors are usually placed on top of tall buildings or lamp posts so they can best capture audio.
Say someone fires a gun. The sensors work together with a programmed algorithm to detect not only the location of the gunfire but also the type of weapon used. The time between gunfire and 911 contact is only 45 seconds.
Does it work? That depends on what the goal is. Most gunshots go completely unreported, so yes it meets that goal. And according to the numbers, this new surveillance technology does in fact reduce the number of gunshots fired. Well either that, or more people are using silencers. So if your goal is to reduce the amount of gunshots, sure it works. But if your goal is to fix the conditions that cause gun violence, then no way.
So what causes gun violence? Well many things. But generally, the poorest areas are the ones with the most gunshots. Especially urban-poor areas since people live so close together. As opposed to rural-poor areas where people might live over a mile away from their closest neighbor. In Detroit, police placed Shotspotter in the Northeast side: the poorest area of the city. Which just so happens to also be the area with the most gunshots per square mile.
“But it reduces gunshots. So it’s worth the investment, right?” If all other options were already exhausted I would say hell yeah. Or if it only cost a few hundred bucks then sure why not? It’s hard to find a hard number or even an estimate of what ShotSpotter costs. According to a local Connecticut outlet, the surveillance technology costs “hundreds of thousands.” Even if you assume this is an exaggeration, police departments all over the country are spending a lot of freaking money on this.
So the question then becomes: can’t we think of any better way to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars each year? Especially in areas that need it the most? I know the city of Detroit supposedly has no money to keep schools open but they have thousands to invest in this new surveillance technology? And if they can’t afford it, don’t worry! There’s lots of federal grant opportunities available to help. Just weird we can find money for this but not for schools or to maybe provide people with career opportunities.
The good news is, the surveillance technology can only detect super loud sounds like gunfire. So it can’t listen to your conversations. But I don’t see why the company wouldn’t expand in the future to offer street-level monitoring. Why bother with beat-cops at all? Either way, Shotspotter is in over 90 cities across the country. So look for one near you!