This week, New York City installed a new gunshot detection system. The new $1.5 million test system uses devices called ShotSpotters to detect gunshot sounds and locate them to within 2 feet. The system comprises more than 300 sensors spread over a cumulative 15 square miles of the city, using triangulation to locate shots in real time. The hope is that the new system will alert police to crimes that would otherwise go unreported. A similar system is already in place in Washington, DC, where it has detected nearly 40,000 gunshots over eight years.
The department first announced its plans last June, laying out five different regions of 3 square miles each where the ShotSpotters could be deployed. Data from the gunshot sensors will be analyzed at the NYPD's domain awareness center, where it can be combined with further data from CCTV cameras and 911 calls. Previous versions of the system were prone to false positives, mistaking any loud noise for a gunshot, but the city is more optimistic about this version. Mayor DeBlasio praised the symbolic importance of the sensors, saying, "it's going to send a message to our communities that if you fire a weapon, the police are going to know immediately."