San Francisco is scaling up its use of an intelligent gunshot sensor system – but when the same scheme was trialled in the UK it was abandoned after two years. However, the technology of the sensors has improved, so is it time to retry the system?
It sounds like a no-brainer. A tried and tested network of listening sensors are placed around a city and can instantly pinpoint where a gunshot has come from within seconds of the weapon being fired.
ShotSpotter promises to save police having to hunt door-to-door in the vague vicinity of a blast. It analyses the way the sound waves from the gun firing radiate out reaching microphones at slightly different times.
Its maker SST says it can distinguish the sound of a bullet being fired from fireworks and other types of explosion, count how many shots were fired and even deduce how many gunmen were involved.
San Francisco is scaling up its use of the tech – and it’s also been deployed in Miami, Boston, Puerto Rico and Rio de Janeiro.
But an effort to use it to combat gun crime in the UK was abandoned when authorities in the city of Birmingham reported “technical difficulties”.
So, what went wrong – and would it be worth reconsidering?