How the Internet of Things Knows Where Gunfire Happens

SST's ShotSpotter pinpoints outdoor, urban gunshots for law enforcement agencies. Now it's moving indoors with a service for schools
How the Internet of Things Knows Where Gunfire Happens

Image Credits: Shotspotter.com

by Stephen Shankland | CNET | July 28, 2014


There are amusing ideas for the Internet of Things — Net-connected houseplants, for example. But lest you think hooking just about everything up to the Internet is silly or sci-fi, consider this more serious example: telling police exactly where in a city somebody has just started shooting.

A company called SST has been doing that with technology called ShotSpotter that spreads an array of computer-powered microphones across a city. They notice the sharp crack of outdoor gunfire, then send the data to a computer that calculates just where the shots were fired based on how long it took the audio signal to reach the microphones.

At the same time, miniaturization means that the Internet of Things is spreading, and that means changes to how we live our increasingly data-infused lives. One example: SST is expanding its services so it can detect not just outdoor shootings, but also indoor incidents so tragically seen at schools in Sandy Hook and Columbine.

“This system is meant to be an automatic fire alarm for active-shooter situations,” said SST Chief Executive Ralph Clark.

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