A network of acoustic sensors deployed across 20 square miles of Washington, DC, have recorded about 39,000 incidents of gunfire over the past eight years, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. The network—called ShotSpotter—employs a central computer to analyze a captured sound's acoustic signature, distinguishing between gunshots and other percussive noises.
Sounds that ShotSpotter identifies as gunfire are referred to humans for review. The machine analysis and human review take about 40 seconds, the Post reports, after which police can be dispatched. The origin of a sound detected by 10 sensors can be located within two feet.
The Post quotes Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier as saying of ShotSpotter, “It is a valuable tool that provides almost instantaneous alerts that allow officers to be dispatched quicker for the sound of gunshots. It has also been instrumental in determining crime trends and establishing information in investigations.”
ShotSpotter is manufactured by SST.