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We’ve covered ShotSpotter in “ShotSpotters” Detection System Does Sweet FA in Newark KillingChicago Cops Deploy Shot Spotter. Again. Still and Rocky Mount, NC ShotSpotter: Solution in Search of a Problem? Suffice it to say, we’re not fans. The company’s website offers “Gun Violence Resources” for “Elected Officials” and “Community Organizers” (recommending “reducing easy access to guns”). In other words, ShotSpotter is security theater for gun control advocates. No wonder, then, that New York City has signed up for a two-year, 15-square mile demonstration project “to both detect and to deter gunfire activity, including drug-related and ‘celebratory’ gunfire that may terrorize communities or end in tragic deaths.” [Contract notice here and after the jump]. How much? NY tells TTAG it’s “around $1.5m subject to final negotiations.” Sigh . . .

– Demonstration Project – Testing or experimentation is required – PIN# 05614D0001 – Due 7-18-14 at 2:00 P.M.

Pursuant to Section 3-11 of the PPB Rules, The New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) is seeking to enter into a contract for a Demonstration Project with ShotSpotter, Inc. (DBA SST, Inc.), 7979 Gateway Blvd., Newark, CA 94560, for a Gunshot Detection and Location System (the “System”). The NYPD is seeking to enter into a contract for the implementation of the System as a 2-Year Demonstration Project covering up to 15 Square miles of New York City. The proposed System would use specially placed microphones to pinpoint, in seconds, the precise location of gunfire within the coverage areas. The System will also include an adjudication capability in which analysts will listen to each recorded alert and screen out false positives (such as fireworks). The purpose of the System is to both detect and to deter gunfire activity, including drug-related and “celebratory” gunfire that may terrorize communities or end in tragic deaths.

ShotSpotter, has developed a gunshot detection and location system that utilizes an entirely different technological, adjudicatory, and financial model from other such systems that have been tried unsuccessfully in the past by the NYPD. ShotSpotter uses a network of sensors (15-20 per square mile) that are affixed to rooftops and other high points. The system uses triangulation to determine the exact location from which a shot was fired. ShotSpotter also employs a team of analysts, stationed at a round-the-clock adjudication center, to listen to the sounds that prompted each alert. Adding human judgment to the process should drastically reduce the number of false positives. The Department is not aware of any other vendor which offers a gunshot detection system utilizing a technological and adjudicatory approach similar to that of ShotSpotter, Inc,.

The Demonstration period will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of such a system within the environment of New York City. If the System proves to be a success, then the NYPD currently plans to do a competitive solicitation for the implementation of a Gunshot Detection and Location System over a larger coverage area.

[h/t DMP]

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  1. Maybe they can deploy ED-209 robots to deal with the gunshots too. That worked out so well in the movies.

  2. Already have it here in Springfield, MA it is useless and deters nothing it is a reactive system not a proactive one. It is the equivalent of calling 911 to summons the police

    • And thats a bad thing? I mean as long as they arent fitting this with some laser beam to zap anyone shooting a gun near the sensor, it doesnt sound like a bad deal. Unless you dont want the police coming to investigate gunshots… cant really see why that would be the case unless you ND’d in you apartment and nobody called the cops you can patch the wall and pretend like nothing happened whereas police coming might ruin your day.

      Honestly, stuff like this is never going to work as intended if people keep saying “oh it doesnt work so we shouldnt ever use it” Think about someone who lives in a gang rattled neighborhood and is fed up with nightly shootouts, but maybe too scared to call the cops because of potential backlash. If shotspotter works, the police come, mayb enot in time but what if they start noticing a trend so they hang out there more often? Would that be a bad thing? I’m missing it if it is.

      • “doesnt sound like a bad deal.”

        I wonder if the people who had the $1.5m picked out of their pocket to pay for it feel the same way?

        • and how long will it be before the BGs make the system worthless with false gunshots/recorded sounds or even diversionary gunshots/recorded sounds to get the PoPo to respond to a non event while they are burglarizing another neighborhood.

  3. I think the military uses similar tech in armored vehicles to locate shooters.

    Am I the only one who just found motivation to go to NYC next year with a trunk full of fireworks?

    • Works better when you don’t have a bunch of echo issues… like near large buildings.

    • Like using a fishing trawler to find earthworms. They would have to have them actively employed everywhere to do any good. Everywhere. NYC / NY burned through a lot of DHS $ after 911 swat-a-tizing their police force and now can’t justify the continuance w/o stupid stuff, i.e., “let’s empty GITMO into our court system, we can handle-it” and the shooter-guess system they have paid somebody’s kids college off by buying. They didn’t work very well in the desert unless you were on-scene and monitoring very actively. I wish I could say they were burying themselves in their own costs (i.e., Detroit ~ 1991) but they are getting $ from all of us.

      Plus, there’s bound to be unintended consequences, I.e., It’s gonna ruin it for NYPD who’ve “shot somebody and are looking for a suspect”

      We can only hope that the $ helps to better the military version of the tech, or some other tech.

      • “We can only hope that the $ helps to better the military version of the tech, or some other tech.”

        ^^As long as there is no downside, ie legal overstepping on citizens, and frankly I’m having trouble seeing that is possible, this can only better the technology for our brave soldiers fighting in increasingly urban wartime environments.

        What if you are alone and are involved in a DGU, maybe you forgot your cellphone or dropped it, or maybe you hit the guy and he isnt dead and still a threat so you have to cover him with your gun and cant reach your phone, wouldn’t it be nice if something like ShotSpotter sent the police? Or worse, you are pinned down behind a dumpster after the initial volley. Your choice is to reload or grab your phone out of your pocket to call the police. Are you saying you want to have more time before the police come post DGU? For the same reason you mentioned some crooked NYPD cop “looking for a suspect” would want more time?

        • If it’s deployed anything like the DC and Baltimore systems, there are just SO MANY SHOTS DETECTED that the cops don’t bother showing up after the first time each day. If they can even spare the manpower to do that.

  4. I don’t have an issue with this “ShotSpotter” system. The only thing I heard that was of concern, is that the Police Chief stated their number one priority is to “reduce gun violence” … instead of reducing ALL violence, or crime. So, other than the usual expectation of ‘gun bigotry’ from a Californian, this in itself isn’t a direct threat to our 2A liberties.

      • What? It’s only $100,000 per sq. mile to (maybe) detect the event and general location of a gunshot with only a few 100 false positive per actual shot detected which surely won’t result in response times being so poor that by the time the system detects, the adjudicators adjudicate, report it to the police and they roll on the call that the shooter wont be long gone or anything, I mean, when you shoot someone you just kinda wait around right there waiting for the cops right?

  5. New Haven was setting this up when I lived there. All sorts of articles about it going up and photos of the ‘command center.’ After that we never heard anything about it whatsoever. No grand mentions of it helping catch anyone or saving any lives or of it even existing at all.

    It was as if some company got a crazy sum of tax dollars then took off.

    • It is active in new haven. A friend of mine would go outside cafe 9 and crack a whip, then watch the patrol cars show up a few minutes later. Good times, and a useless, easily fooled system.

  6. Imagine how many teachers, garbage trucks, or scratch-off lotto tickets could be bought with that money.

  7. I was in the DC area for the whole of October 2002 with the Beltway shooter at large shooting people where simply getting gas at a gas station.

    They used the ShotSpotter then as well and it did not help to catch the suspects and it is not going to help today. It is BS with so many variables.

    Just like the police, this can only help you react after the fact and whoever is shooting has left. Unless you have lots of cameras and this can direct the cameras, you are not catching anything.

    The only people this helps the people who developed the equipment to line their pockets. I doubt this has been used to solve any crimes ever.

    • Yes because scenarios like the Beltway Sniper are only 2 dimensional.

      Or they start to notice a pattern and so they slowly close the noose around the guy’s neck, potentially catching him sooner and preventing further killings. Yeah, it doesn’t help those who already died, but it potentially contains the situation faster than otherwise… I don’t see how concealed carry supporters use the same argument (could stop a mass murderer before he kills as many people) yet use the same “reactive” argument to shoot this technology down.

      Again the list of people that this technology could negatively affect are people using guns for criminal purposed, so why again are we fighting against it? If it helps develop the technology I dont see why that is bad. The only reason a law abiding gun owner would not want police attention after shooting their weapon is if they did something stupid like ND’ing in their apartment/ in public etc.

      • These guys claim they can pinpoint a shot to your yard – I’d rather not be the test case for when it doesn’t work properly.

  8. Ummm…the idiots in my south of Chicago neighborhood are already gearing up for the 4th of July. I guarantee lots of firework fun and the occasional GUN shots. How in the h#ll would this colossal waste of $ help? Except to line someone’s pocket. Right up the alley for Rahm & the keystone cops in Chicago…let the bidding begin!

  9. Cameras?! This isn’t the UK, we don’t need that kind of bullshit here!!!

    BTW, maybe they should be trying their ShotSpotter system out in Compton, CA.

    • Then you haven’t heard about the license plate reader/cameras that are mounted around every major city and on nearly every State Police car? For the nonexistent DHS database?

  10. Yes, there is a Shot Spotter system set up in New Haven, CT. Because of my job I receive notifications via email everytime it detects shots. I can say it works 60% of the time all the time…….

  11. Waste of money? At last, at long last we as a nation have the means to get the celebratory shooters off the street. I’m sleeping better already. Hell, I might go outside and do some celebatory shooting I’m so happy. One FN giant step for mankind.

  12. funny thing about this: doesn’t work if the shot occurs inside an enclosed area (read apartment or car). Containing the soundwaves adds too many variables for the simple triangulation based on sound delay. So great for helping if the shooting occurs outside. Doesn’t really help if it occurs elsewhere.

  13. 1.5 mil for two years for some microphones and a simple program that will triangulate the location of gun shots? (or backfire, or fireworks, or other loud-bang-type noises)

    I’m in the wrong business.

    • You and me both.

      I was in Silicon Valley when this nonsense first came out. Lot of us engineers said “Oh, if only I were a bit more cynical and unscrupulous, I could be making easy money and getting lots of headlines…”

  14. When was last time a criminal was concerned about laws which forbid? Or cameras which document? But now they are to change their ways because of microphones…whose information needs to be corroborated by humans and then passed on to popo. Yeah, I truly see gangbangers shaking over that prospect……..not.

  15. Even with the maximum of 20 sensors per square mile, that’s 1 sensor per 1,400 square feet. That’s not going to give you “exact locations” at all.

    • you mean 1 sensor per 1400sf ie. 1 sensor per average american house size? that means my lot alone (I would consider it small to medium sized for a city) would have 4 sensors… if I shot a gun on my property they wouldalmost certainly be able to pinpoint and come to my house if your math is right… and that is not precise because???????

      I think you need to check your math though, 1400 sf * 20sensors/ sqmile doesnt come close to 1 square mile measured in ft., like you are off by a factor of ~1000

  16. I’ve read about how this system was used in DC. What, in practice, do they actually do with it? They compile statistics. They make pretty color maps showing where shots were detected. Actually catching the shooters? Not so much.

    • And even more effective when you consider that it’s a felony to fire a gun in DC. What a joke…

  17. Triangulating the sound wave w/echo effect generally will result in appx 2 sq mile area to search. You would have to put 20 patrol cars into the area, meantime 3 miles away thieves have a field day. It would cost 50+ million for a 40-60% correct detection plus annual fees in a city the size of NYC. All paid for by homeland security for 1st 5 years after that NYC taxpayers get the bill. Sat through one of the co.’s presentations @ a meeting last year. Can get fed grants for this bs. But for vests for cops hard as hell. I know a lot that had to buy used from e-bay or craigslist to get one because of techno tactical crap.

    • Many commenters here do not seem to be familiar with the physics nor technology of triangulation of sound.
      Remember this one “Two trains leave their stations going a given speed…..”
      Sound triangulation can give very accurate results. Echoes do present a problem in a city with buildings that create canyons and indirect paths for sound. It is not the number of micro phones but microphones with clear paths to the gunshot.

      GPS needs only 24 satellites to cover the earth and they are 18,000 miles in orbit but use the same triangulation technique,
      Time of arrival at each mike and the distance between them.

      • That’s from my notes the sales rep used to try and sell the system. Rep from NYC was there & the responses to the ? he & other city reps/engineers asked. GPS has my house
        Located 5 1/2 miles from it’s actual location.

      • Yea, triangulation can… if you don’t have the irregular and varied acoustics of the urban landscape greatly complicating the issue.

        If you’re out in an open area, hey it works really well.

        If you’re detecting the sound of a shot that’s echoed and re-echoed off of a number of taller buildings surrounding the point of origin, all with different acoustic reflectivities… good luck. That’s what was discovered when the system first was deployed in the 90’s. Those physics haven’t changed to this day.

  18. Didn’t L.A. piss away a big pile of $$$ a while back on one of these systems, then promptly shut it down after it just didn’t work and/because whoever was monitoring got tired of the 90% false positives?

  19. They’re feel good like Gun Free Zones. They don’t really work that well, many false alarms, etc.

    BUT, they are making money.

    • Certain cultures do that.
      Remember Youtube vid, Dad shoots in the air at a wedding, sets the pistol down and a four year old continues the celebration into Dad’s abdomen?

    • You oughta hear some neighborhoods around Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve. Sounds like a third world country… which it basically is now.

  20. They don’t respond to 911 calls, based on there shooting record NYPD majority can’t hit the broadside of a barn so how are they going to catch a criminal.

  21. Can’t wait for the day when they connect the entire city to one network. They are already laying the infrastructure.

  22. If the system relies on sensors being placed on buildings, what is there to stop these sensors being discovered and deactivated (aka vandalized)? And it will become the latest game for kids to make a noise that is detected as a gunshot and watch the police swarm the area.

    • Nothing, absolutely nothing.

      And it’s been done in the SF Bay area. Pay a little kid $10 to go light off a bunch of firecrackers a few miles away and 15 minutes earlier than you’re planning on plying your trade on the Ez-Rob gas station. It puts all the police “over there” while you’re “over here.”

      After awhile, even the cops get a clue. “Heeeeyyyyyyy…. how come… every time we go where the Shotspotter says to go, someone knocks off a Quick-Rip gas station on the other side of town?”

      This is yet another instance where law enforcement and politicians are looking for a quick fix to a problem we already had solved quite well 50+ years ago. Today, it goes by the trendy name of “community policing.” I like to call it “Go old-school. Park your damn car and start walking & talking a beat.”

      Once a cop becomes part of the neighborhood and gets to know people, he’ll have hundreds of eyes and ears feeding him information, not only about where the shots were fired, but more importantly, who was doing the shooting.

  23. I hope that the American people will soon deploy their Bullsh1tSpotter Bullsh1t Detection System. It will help us locate bullsh1t whenever a politician or police chief opens his mouth.

    • We have a few there is druge report and there is infowars dot com, breitbart, etc.

  24. This “shot spotter” crap went up in some areas of the SF Bay Area back in the 90’s.

    It didn’t work then.

    I doubt it is working any better now.

    But some bunch of cynical engineers have made a mint off of gullible political hacks and cops peddling these systems to them.

  25. This is already in place and is being used as a cover for the shotgun microphones.
    This program is for interception of speech.

    Welcome to tyranny in America.

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