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California high school installs security system to pinpoint gunfire

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A high school in Newark, California, has become the first in the country to install a high-tech system designed to pinpoint the location of gunfire. It's called ShotSpotter, and it's already in use across several cities across the US, including New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Oakland, Minneapolis, and more. And that's what it's designed for — even wealthy cities like New York have only deployed the system in high-crime precincts that see frequent episodes of gunfire.

The Newark Memorial High School is just the second educational institution in the country to install the system — ShotSpotter went live at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2014. A few other schools have installed similar, competing systems to ShotSpotter. The system was installed last month, well before a high-profile mass shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina church last week that has reignited the gun control debate in the US.

System was originally designed for militaries and police forces, not schools

The school hasn't disclosed how much the installation costs, but it reportedly totals less than $20,000. The school district's superintendent explained the decision to the Contra Costa Times: "We look at this as the next wave of student and staff safety." He added, "Being right in the heart of Silicon Valley, we're proud to be the first high school to implement this cutting-edge technology and we believe many others will follow." ShotSpotter, notably, is also based in Newark, a city which is not known for issues with gun violence.

The system works by using sets of microphones arranged around city blocks or, in this case, the roughly 25 buildings scattered around the high school's 44-acre campus. If three different microphones pick up the gunshot, the shooter's location can be triangulated. After a firearm is picked up by the system, an alarm and the location of the shot is sent immediately to authorities. By notifying the police immediately and providing continuously updated locations to assist with the search for the shooter, officials hope they would be able limit casualties were an attack ever to occur.