An alarming majority of guns fired in any city is not reported to the police. The NYPD is taking a step towards knowing when shots are fired, even when no one reports them, thanks to a new system called ShotSpotter.
The NYPD will be piloting the ShotSpotter in five areas of three square miles each. The system works through the use of sensors, 300 of them in the case of the test areas. If three sensors pick up the sound of a potential gunshot, it is reported to the ShotSpotter headquarters, where a trained technician double-checks the info. If the shot is confirmed, the data is passed along to the NYPD, who get information on where and when the shot took place, and can take action as needed.
The ShotSpotter can identify the location of a gunshot to within 25 meters. The trial of the system in just these five areas for a year will cost $1.5 million to run.
NYPD’s Information Technology Deputy Commissioner Jessica Tisch said that the police department has tried a gunshot detection system before, Gothamist reports.
“There were so many false positives that the whole system became just, for lack of a better word, noise,” Tisch said.
The new version of the ShotSpotter has been updated and improved on. The system now needs a potential gunshot to be detected by three different sensors, to reduce the number of false positives. During testing, the system picked up 80 percent of test shots accurately.
In addition to alerting officers of potential unreported shootings, the ShotSpotter is an additional layer of evidence that can be used to try individuals involved in shootings. A not-yet-operational system had actually picked up the shots that killed Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu last year on the sensors.