This afternoon at 2 pm, the City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee, chaired by Councilmember Bruce Harrell, looks at a high-tech solution to a recurring problem: How to tell when reports of gunshots are really gunshots – and how to find out about gunfire if no one reports it. The committee will see a presentation for a system called ShotSpotter, which involves acoustic sensors – a media advisory for today’s meeting summarizes it this way:
How will the Automated Gunfire Locating System work? When gunfire occurs outdoors, acoustic sensors will activate instantly and software will triangulate and identify the exact location of the gunfire. A gunfire and acoustic expert analyzes and validates the audio data and routes the alert to the police dispatch center. Within minutes, the police will receive critical information and arrive at the exact location of the gunfire knowing how many shots were fired, the original shooter’s position, speed and direction of travel (if shooter moved) and exact time of gunfire.
The company’s PowerPoint is online as part of the committee agenda, so we took a look, and noticed the map above – labeling part of West Seattle as an area recommended for the sensors, because it’s one of three areas in the city that together represent 55 percent of the shots/shootings/weapons calls (the West Seattle area mentioned is described as representing 8 percent of the calls), while only comprising 18 percent of the city’s acreage. Today’s meeting is a briefing – no specific proposal is up for a vote; too soon for that, and note that the slide deck says the cost of this is $40,000-$60,000/square mile annually – but if you’re interested in watching, Seattle Channel will have it live, on cable 21 and online at seattlechannel.org.