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NYPD Installing Rooftop Sensors To Track And Pinpoint Gunfire

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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In an effort to combat a rise in violent shootings, the New York City Police Department is launching a two-year project to install microphones on city rooftops, which will allow police to precisely pinpoint the location of gunshots within seconds.

The $1.5 million pilot program will place ShotSpotter gunshot detection systems across 15 square miles of the city, the acoustic sensors of which will help police identify the areas in greatest need of increased police presence.

“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,” a recent local newspaper notice reads, according to The Verge.

According to ShotSpotters, 10 sensors using triangulation analysis can determine the location of a gunshot to within two feet. Officers will engage in “round-the-clock” shifts monitoring sounds flagged by the sensors to sift out fireworks or other false alarms — problems other cities have reported since deploying similar systems.

The NYPD is not disclosing the number or locations of sensors deployed in order to maintain their security and effectiveness. Should the system prove useful in reducing the current upward trend in gun violence — which the NYPD says has increased 32 percent in housing projects alone in 2014 — it could be expanded and incorporated into the city’s network of surveillance cameras.

“You not only get recording of the gunshots, but you get the camera activation right away,” NYPD commissioner and former ShotSpotter board member Bill Bratton said last month.

Bratton has expressed an interest in the police integration of other advanced technologies including drones, which could help monitor areas of high crime and analyze the danger posed by fires for the FDNY.

“Myself, I’m supportive of the concept of drones, not only for police but for public safety in general,” Bratton said last month. “It’s something that we actively keep looking at and stay aware of.”

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