Looks Like The Shotspotter Really Works... Or Maybe Not

Camden, NJ, which is marked on the AAA map in my glove compartment as Here Be Dragons, recently installed a ton of municipal surveillance equipment, including ShotSpotters (not mentioned by name in the article). They quickly proved that gunfire in certain neighboods are actually underreported by about 30%.

Thoughts?


Isn't Camden one of the most crime ridden cities in the country?

Which is why they're attempting to throw a bunch of technology at the problem. It's to early to tell if the system is actually effective, but they seem to think it's effective.

Well, the writer of the article seems to be like most reporters when it comes to this stuff. He appears to take the majority of their claims at face value about the capabilities of the system without actually investigating the ability of "cameras that can spot a stash in a discarded pack of Newports from blocks away." And claiming that 121 cameras cover "virtually every inch" of the city.

Other reports on ShotSpotter seem to indicate that it's output is not completely reliable, so it's hard to say this is proof of it "working". It's more proof that it is generating alerts of sounds like gunfire.

The article also talks about how the residents of the city attempt to police themselves in many cases, so it's not that surprising that every gunshot is not called in to the police in a warzone.

"The residents of the city attempt to police themselves in many cases, so it's not that surprising that every gunshot is not called in to the police in a warzone."

Yikes. I hope no IPVM members live in Camden.

Now all they need to do is tie together ShotSpotter with Camden's nascent DealSpotter LPR database, of which John reported a while back.

They could pull the shooter over by the next traffic signal. ;)

New update: this municipality discontinued use of ShotSpotter due to a really, really, really high false positive rate. Ouch.

Thanks, Ari.

Some excerpts from the article:

"In August 2012 West Midlands Police said of 1,618 alerts produced by the system since November 2011, only two were confirmed gunfire incidents. What's more, the force added, ShotSpotter had also missed four confirmed shootings."

"SST originally proposed a density of ShotSpotter sensors of approximately 10 per square kilometre," he said. "Unfortunately, budget constraints pushed West Midlands Police to reduce that density. We take partial responsibility for permitting the budget to drive the decision, along with West Midlands Police."

"A new generation of sensor - with approximately 10 times the processing power"

"The cost of investigating a single murder could run to £1m. By contrast, installing the system cost £150,000 and a further £21,000 a year to maintain."

1. That first sentence is highly misleading. Plus it's worded to try to comparitively justify actual costs in the next sentence. :(

2. Are the costs in the 2nd sentence per square kilometer - or total of the entire system covering West Midlands? (which is how big, btw?) Compared to some of the U.S. entities we've all talked about before using this stuff, those UK installation totals seem wildly low... weren't the Long Island counties paying millions? I seem to remember somewhere around $100k/sq mile or something...

Also, the presumption is that the system will somehow significantly reduce / eliminate the cost of investigation.

Also, the presumption is that the system will somehow significantly reduce / eliminate the cost of investigation.

Maybe the guy shot doesn't die cuz they get there fast enough due to SS, therefore no murder investigation? ;)

But anyway, you would think that even if the cost of the investigation went down, the number of investigations and trials would go up, right? At least until all the murderers were behind bars...

Because I would say if secuirty cameras are not a deterrent to crime, the some unseen audio locator device sure as shot ain't gonna stop anybody!

And if they guy does die and SS is part of any circumstantial case against the shooter, I can imagine the expert testimony needed to validate the technology would drive the case cost even higher, just like DNA testimony did, esp. in its early days of adoption.

Suggestion: Perform search and replace in Title, "ks" to "ked".

Or just remove the first word.

"Camden, NJ, which is marked on the AAA map in my glove compartment as Here Be Dragons"

Oh man, I laughed so hard at this...

If any of you have HBO, watch the Vice episode where they did a good news story on the Camden, NJ situation. They talk to residents about it (not one supported the measure) and mention the Shot Spotter as well. If you want to see a police state in action, go to Camden, NJ.