Smartphone Gunfire Tracking

Gunshot detection systems use geographically distributed microphones and audio analytics to help pinpoint the origin of gunshots in cities. Typically, these systems consist of a 'mesh' of mics installed throughout cities on poles. However, a university is looking to port the technology to smartphones:

"...an associate professor of electrical and computer science at Vanderbilt has been working for several years on an alternative: an affordable hardware module for an Android smartphone that could do something similar but from mobile positions. "If you put this on squad cars or actual officers," he says, "then you are much better off."

see: Could Your Smartphone Help Police Track Gunfire?

The article describes that while the technology is being developed, it still faces some big obstacles before becoming mainstream, notably:

  • "Smartphones alone could be used for shot detection," Ledeczi explains, "but typically people carry it in their pocket, and having the microphone on would kill your battery" so developers have opted for a separate mic module.
  • "The smartphone system needs several nodes in order to pinpoint a shooter’s location. As a result, it is best suited for security teams or similar groups." So it takes several separate devices running the software to return a valid result.

Do you think this is useful? Would you use your personal phone for this? What problems or limitations do you see?


Or just distribute a handful of Android devices around an area and use it as a low cost 'open source' gunshot detector? Obviously, I have no idea how well this will work and how much worse performance will be compared to something like Shotspotter.

I think it could be useful for teams, but I don't see how they could make this work well on mobile phones. It always has to be on to work, right? It would probably be more useful mounted on top of a cop car rather than carried by a person. I don't see it being something the general public gets excited about either. How often is the average person around gunshots that need to be triangulated. And if they are, how often are they close enough to them that their phone would pick it up?

Interesting.....Perhaps it could be another condition of probation where you also have to have this app on yhour phone in addition to the usual S&S and pee tests. Otherwise I really don't see it of much use to LE as the majority of the public is not around gunfire all that often and it takes three to triangulate.

"How often is the average person around gunshots that need to be triangulated. And if they are, how often are they close enough to them that their phone would pick it up?"

And for that matter, how many people would want to be walking around with a live microphone listening to (and presumably recording) everything they say and do?

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