ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection System

    The NY Times have published an interesting article on the ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection System …

    A technician quickly focused on the computer screen, where the words “multiple gunshots” appeared in large type. She listened to a recording of the shots — the tat-tat-tat-tat-tat of five rounds from a small-caliber weapon — and zoomed in on a satellite map to see where the gun had been fired: North 23rd Street in Milwaukee, 2,200 miles away.

    Cities that installed ShotSpotter in the past bought the equipment and managed the alerts themselves, a model that often involved laying out hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the company now offers a subscription plan for a yearly fee of $40,000 to $60,000 per square mile that includes round-the-clock monitoring of alerts by trained reviewers here in Mountain View.

    Ignoring any legal, social and constitutional issues of such a system, I wonder what effect this system would have on gun ownership and perception of gun owners.

    If the system worked 95% of the time (and by work I mean it detected the shot and officers actually arrived on the scene within 5 – 10 minutes), or at least was perceived as working by criminals, either they would replace their illegal guns with blunt, edged or bow weapons or they would start using homemade suppressors.

    If criminals started using edged weapons, legal gun owners would be less easily vilified. If criminals started using suppressors, even DIY suppressors, it would freeze or reverse all progress made over the past few years at making suppressors an acceptable part of shooting culture in the USA.

    My biggest problem with the system is the limited areas it could be used. I doubt that it could detect shootings indoors and so would be limited to gangland shoot outs. My other concern would be the ease that the system could be hacked. It would be trivial to set the sensors off and divert police resources using a pair of cheap blank firing revolvers.

    I am interested in what y’all think of this system.

    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!