NYC Tries New Tech to Pinpoint Gunshots

ShotSpotter has come to New York.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the NYPD use of ShotSpotter. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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New York City is the latest city to implement gunshot detection system ShotSpotter, on a trial basis in five zones in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Gothamist reports that “all ShotSpotter data is owned by the NYPD, and the one-year trial of the system will cost $1.5 million.”

The technology is designed to locate gunshots with the use of 300 sensors and other tech, as well as details like the number of shots, the firearms involved and the shooter’s direction of travel.

Boston, Milwaukee and Miami are among the cities already contracted to use ShotSpotter. Washington, D.C.’s system reportedly captured 39,000 shots in its first eight years of use, according to The Washington Post.

“It’s going to send a message to our communities that if you fire a weapon, the police are going to know immediately,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio this week at One Police Plaza.

Programs like ShotSpotter are the latest in a movement toward tech-minded policing — that carries the potential to ease tensions with law enforcement, or agitate them.

While ShotSpotter’s site notes the tech “is designed to trigger on loud explosive or impulsive sounds,” there are also the natural privacy worries in a world with ideas like converting pay phones into listening devices that could curate data on noise pollution — or, like ShotSpotter, be of use to police.

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Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.

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Tags: policecrime

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