Nab the Shooter: NYPD Combatting Gun Violence with ShotSpotter

Gun violence in New York City is on the rise.

There have been 185 shootings reported so far this year, nearly a 22 percent increase from the same period a year ago.

In the ‘Big Apple’ and in cities across the United States gun violence is ubiquitous, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year there are well over 80,000 nonfatal injuries and 31,000 deaths involving guns.

ShotSpotter is a unique and innovative system that works through sensors set up at various locations: on street lights, rooftops, and other areas.ShotSpotter is a unique and innovative system that works through sensors set up at various locations: on street lights, rooftops, and other areas.

What’s even scarier is the large number of situations involving gunfire that's left unreported. 

However, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is taking swift action to battle gun violence.

Earlier this week the force announced that they are turning to new-cutting-edge technology to halt the ever-so growing epidemic of inner-city warfare.

The NYPD has adopted a very unique detection system that pinpoints the exact location of gunfire.

The system they are now using is called ShotSpotter, which was invented by SST Inc. in Newark, CA.

The unique and innovative system works through sensors set up at various locations: on street lights, rooftops, and other areas. The sensors all have built in microphones – high-tech and sensitive in every sense – that detect actual gunshots.

Audio of gunshots as they occur are instantly sent to ShotSpotter's headquarters and their team pinpoints its exact location and immediately alerts the NYPD.  The software system that operates ShotSpotter automatically determines whether a noise is that of a gunshot or if it is a car backfiring or a door slamming. The cloud-based system is effective in that it provides 24x7x365 real-time-data.

The cloud-based system for ShotSpotter is effective in that it provides 24x7x365 real-time-data.The cloud-based system for ShotSpotter is effective in that it provides 24x7x365 real-time-data.

The system is costing the city $1.5 million, but it’s a worthy investment, according to city officials.

“We are rolling out cutting-edge technology to make the city safer, to make our neighborhoods safer, to keep our officers safer,” says NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, “This gunshot detection system is going to do a world of good in terms of going after the bad guys.”

While gun violence is on the rise, what’s even more troubling is the staggering number of cases that are left unreported. There are a number of cities in the U.S. that have also just adopted the ShotSpotter detection system.

William J. Bratton, head commissioner  for the NYPD, says that “on average, 75 percent of shots fired called in by ShotSpotter are never called into 911.”

Ralph Clark, President and CEO of SST Inc., says that a city like New York will benefit from ShotSpotter’s technology as it will serve as a critical element in the fight against illegal urban gunfire.

“Our 2014 National Gunfire Index, which we’ll release next month, compares 2014 gunfire to 2013 gunfire in ShotSpotter-monitored communities and details a significant reduction in gunfire incidents across the U.S. in those cities that are using ShotSpotter,” says Clark. “The unique real time gun crime intelligence we provide helps local agencies offer a higher quality of service to many underserved communities.  As a result community support and law enforcement collaboration increases thereby deterring and preventing gun crime.”

So, will ShotSpotter put an end to illegal gunfire in urban locales? Maybe not completely, but perhaps it will make shooters think twice before they pull the trigger.

And if anything ShotSpotter is a step in the right direction in the ongoing combat in urban warfare.