An article that came out in The Smithsonian talks about a device made by Yardarm Technologies that once placed and activated in the backstrap of a handgun, allows a real time feed back to a Police headquarters that shows if the gun has been fired, or how many times it has been fired, in addition to the location of the gun. The company is based in Capitola, California and is testing their product with various local California Law Enforcement agencies.
From the Smithsonian article-
The sensor is about the size of a matchbook and slides easily inside the grip of a Glock sidearm. It contains a battery, accelerometer, magnetometer (or compass), gyroscope, processor and Bluetooth radio. Together, these components can determine whether or not the gun is in an officer’s holster, which direction it’s pointing, where and when shots are fired and whether or not an officer has been separated from his or her firearm. There’s currently no limit to how many firearms the system can monitor at once. Data syncs with Yardarm’s cloud servers through the officer’s smartphone, and dispatchers and commanders can view a readout in real time.
This is the same company that came out with a similar gadget to remotely control a firearms trigger safety, so the firearm could only be used when the owner of it activates it for use. That product failed and the company has since discontinued it.
From the Yardarm Technologies website about device-
The Yardarm Sensor recognizes geo-location, movement, holstering and un-holstering, the discharge of a firearm, as well as direction of fire. These events are transmitted in real-time to CAD or RTCC dashboards, allowing command to use this information to support officers in the field. Custom rule-sets and provisioning tools allow commanders to establish custom use models that match the needs for their departments and officers. This flexibility enables a wide range of use-cases that can be applied to the sidearm an officer carries or tactical weapons used by SWAT and the military.
Apparently the technology is using some of the modern technology in use with cell phones such as the cloud and 3G services-
The Yardarm Sensor connects to the Yardarm Cloud via GSM and provides a set of powerful data streams that can be imported into the industry’s leading CAD and RTCC software solutions via standard APIs.
Although this is interesting technology, and certainly has its benefits there are some obvious downsides. One note of concern is from a political perspective in which a “Big Brother” type of mentality could occur if these devices become so mainstream that there could be a government initiative to put them in all firearms and not just Law Enforcement or Military applications. Another point is that this device seems to fit Glocks well, but what about other handguns? Because not all police departments use Glocks despite their widespread popularity.
A policeman’s sidearm is just a tool to help the officers do their jobs, and like other tools they get switched around, turned in for repair, or get replaced with new firearms. Adding this grip sensor in every single police officers firearm would complicate things on a whole new level from an armor’s perspective, especially when each chip probably costs more than the actual firearm it is serving. A technology that would probably do more justice and at a lower price would be the body cameras that are starting to come in use among some police officers. Another statistic out there is that a majority of police officers go their entire careers without ever firing their side arms. As evidenced in a New York Times article about guns and police-
Nearly 95 percent of New York City’s 38,000 officers have never fired their weapons while fighting crime.
This also contrasts with a similar use of technology by police, covered on TFB in an earlier post about shot spotter technology being used in the UK and spotting more city noises than actual gun shots from crime.