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Public safety is a priority for communities and citizens alike, especially those living in metropolitan areas. While an issue as complex as public safety doesn’t have an easy fix, cities worldwide are thinking outside the box to create programs that build safer communities. For many, this includes embracing smart technology.

Sensors, for example, are widely used to manage the impact of natural disasters, as well as ongoing support efforts such as air quality improvement, traffic management and water conservation. At the same time, smart city technologies are evolving to address public safety issues beyond the scope of natural disasters. This includes a compelling use case: gunshot detection.

Gunshot detection sensors can provide law enforcement with the data needed to improve emergency response time, the ability to better apprehend the right suspect and identify and anticipate threats. While, of course, technology can’t prevent crime altogether, this is a breakthrough use case that can improve public safety and ultimately save lives.

Speeding up response time with more accurate information

Gunshot detection works by using smart sensors mounted on buildings and poles or embedded into streetlight fixtures. These sensors listen for acoustic anomalies and eliminate echoes, bounces and false detections, such as fireworks. When a shot is fired, law enforcement receives a report almost instantaneously with insight into the location of a firearm incident within two meters. The report will also include a short audio clip and images from the camera nearest to the shot location. This provides law enforcement with the ability to know who the shooter is, so the right suspect is apprehended as well as being more responsive to victims and support the community bystanders.

Beyond providing short-term support, when the data collected from sensors is combined with the power of data analytics and machine learning, law enforcement can implement a more proactive strategy to combat gun violence. By analyzing incident patterns and incorporating variables such as location, time, and weather conditions, it is possible to anticipate when, where and under what conditions firearm incidents are most likely to occur. Law enforcement can then make the best use of their resources by focusing on the areas that need them most. Overall, these gunshot detection programs help to strengthen community relationships as the precision response removes the ambiguity of details and help remove threats from the community.

The city of Annapolis, Md., is an excellent example of how smart technology benefits law enforcement and communities in unprecedented ways. Too often, the burden of reporting threats falls on the public, which can also cause false alarms and delayed reactions. Sensors, however, automate the notification process so law enforcement does not have to piece together details from various callers.

In the spring of 2020, the program in Annapolis kicked off, including the installation of gunshot detection sensors in parts of the city. Local utilities supported the initiative as sensors operated on top of the city’s intelligent utility network, and streetlights were used for mounting and powering the system.

The results are impressive. Automatic gunshot alerts reach the Annapolis Police Department (APD) in less than two seconds, allowing them to initiate a response between 30 seconds to two minutes before the first 911 calls are received by dispatch. These seconds count when lives are at stake. Plus, the responding police officers often get a picture of the shooter during the incident, providing them with the information needed to prepare the best tactical response and ensure the right person is apprehended. It also offers invaluable information later during an investigation.

Creating a solid foundation to improve public safety

Smart city technology is maturing, and companies are creating novel use cases that make for a better place to live. However, city leaders need to remember that embarking on a journey to become a smart city takes time. Successful smart cities begin by building a solid foundation—a single network canopy that supports multiple applications. Once this overarching infrastructure is in place, additional industrial IoT sensors and applications can be layered on, allowing cities to collect and utilize data to make better decisions and prevent costly siloes.

In the case of gunshot detection, sensors help identify threats quickly to ensure a rapid response and build better community relations. It is encouraging to see technology being used to create safer communities, and while not a cure-all solution, it is undoubtedly an important step toward improving public safety, solving crimes and removing threats quickly.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Dan Evans and Kathleen Griggs

Quelle/Source: American City and County, 10.01.2023

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