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Get More Out Of Your Gunshot Detection System With Live Video

Sahil Merchant
February 27, 2020

Glendale, AZ- a man is apprehended and put behind bars after detectives say he fired more than 80 rounds from two different pistols in a matter of weeks.

Minneapolis, MN- Police arrest a 19-year-old man and 2 accomplices after he sprayed a street and nearby houses with bullets following a drug deal gone bad.

Brooklyn, NY- A 26-year-old man is shot multiple times while sitting in the passenger seat of his white Nissan Altima. Police rush to the scene and evacuate him to the nearest hospital, where he is unfortunately pronounced dead.

These three incidents of gun violence from across the country share a unique thread- in all three cases, the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system alerted the police department to a violent crime in progress,bringing them to the scene more rapidly than they would have otherwise managed.


What are gunfire detection systems?

ShotSpotter Graphic: How It Works

A gunfire locator or gunshot detection system detects and conveys the location of gunfire using acoustic and/or optical sensors. These systems are being increasingly used by law enforcement and security services to rapidly identify the source and direction of gunfire, and potentially even the type of weapon fired.

Most systems consist of an array of microphones and sensors mounted in various locations, that send an alert to a central command post when gunfire is detected. The alert is usually displayed on a map, including the address and coordinates of the incident, enabling the rapid dispatch of police officers to the scene.

Gunshot detection systems manufactured by companies like ShotSpotter and Shooter Detection Systems have been increasingly installed in high-crime urban areas since the mid-1990s by a growing list of cities and municipalities.  Federal and homeland security agencies have also embraced gunshot detection systems, most notably used by the FBI to help solve the Ohio Sniper attacks in 2003-2004.


How effective are gunfire detection systems?

Gunfire Sensors Mounted On Light Pole
Gunfire Sensors Mounted In Downtown Minneapolis, MN

At this point, it depends on who you ask. These systems are increasingly being installed in high-crime areas to generate rapid alerts for the police department’s communications and dispatch center.

The reporting of urban gunfire via 911 calls can be as low as 25% (Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: December 2019 - Volume 87- Issue 6 - p 1253-1259) which means that law enforcement agencies tend to struggle with timely response and accurate data collection.  

Automated gunfire alerts from detection systems like ShotSpotter often lead to faster response times, making it easier to secure witnesses, and aid investigators in finding more forensic evidence at the scene, leading to higher conviction rates.

In fact, examining gun crime data, the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery (December 2019 - Volume 87 - Issue 6 - p 1253-1259) found that gunshot victims where a ShotSpotter activation was involved tended to be less likely to undergo trauma bay resuscitative measures, and more likely to receive blood products. ShotSpotter activation significantly reduced both the response time as well as transport time for both police and EMS.

However, receiving geopositioned gunfire alerts on a map doesn’t necessarily mean officers get to the scene in time to make an arrest. Usually,by the time officers arrive on the scene of an alert, they merely find an empty street. In Minneapolis, six years of data showed that out of the 5,029 dispatches to ShotSpotter activations, a mere 51 resulted in bookings (Minneapolis ShotSpotter Data 2009-2015).

This has led city councils and government officials in various cities around the country to publicly question the effectiveness and value of systems like ShotSpotter.


Integrating live video into gunfire detection systems delivers the whole picture.

Sensors & Cameras
Sensors & Cameras

The main problem with gunfire detection systems like ShotSpotter, is not how well they perform, but what they aren’t designed to do. By simply geolocating gunfire, the detection system gives law enforcement only half the picture- it tells them the location of a crime in progress, but no details about what is going on, or to who.

This is where live video integration becomes invaluable. By integrating city owned cameras as well as privately owned cameras (if possible)into a gunshot detection system, law enforcement can gain immediate insight into crimes in progress.

Real-time video integration makes a gunshot detection system like ShotSpotter much more valuable as a crime fighting tool- once gunfire is detected,live and prerecorded camera feeds can immediately be accessed from the vicinity of the incident to assess the situation as it unfolds. Not only does this promote faster response rates based on more specific data, it also enhances public and officer safety by allowing responding units to know if the gunman or innocent bystanders are on the scene, or if the incident is still unfolding. It can also boost criminal apprehension rates by delivering a real-time video feed of assailants fleeing the scene, as well as combined audio and video evidence for tagging and storage.

For example, in Minneapolis the MPD has recently integrated their ShotSpotter system into the fūsus Unified Awareness platform. When gunfire occurs, the alert from ShotSpotter activates on the fususONE map interface in the MPD Strategic Information Center (SIC), and all connected cameras in a designated radius around the detected gunfire are automatically activated immediately.

In many cases, these are buffered video streams, that go beyond showing what is currently happening at that location- they actually allow MPD analysts in the SIC to go back BEFORE the shots were fired to see what led up to the incident.  

A force-multiplier for existing public safety investments

ShotSpotter Mobile Interface
ShotSpotter Mobile Interface

The integration of live video, acoustic gunfire detectors,as well as other IoT sensors is a game changer for law enforcement and public safety agencies. The good news is that the investment into most of this infrastructure has often already been made- the various sensors, camera systems, and real-time crime centers already exist.  The problem is, they currently exist in silos and aren’t realizing their true value.

By defragmenting public safety infrastructure and bringing all video and data onto a common platform, public safety agencies will be empowered to act more efficiently and effectively. Officer safety, public safety and criminal apprehension efforts will all be positively impacted by breaking down these silos and creating a smarter police force whose daily operations are based on real-time intelligence.  


About fūsus

fūsus extracts and unifies live video and data feeds from virtually any source, creating a central hub that enhances the situational awareness and investigative capabilities of law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Whether it’s a drone, a traffic camera, a private cell phone video, a building security camera, or a bomb disposal robot, fūsus can extract the live video feed and send it to your emergency operations center and officers in the field.  We create a public safety ecosystem that combines video with our other utilities like real-time officer geolocator feeds, a registry map of all the public and private cameras in your region, a multi-media tips line for the public, and a digital evidence vault for investigators.

fūsus enables Law Enforcement and Public Safety agencies to operate more efficiently, with improved operational intelligence, and with a proactive emphasis on officer, citizen, and community safety.

For more information about Fusus, or to schedule a demo,please contact us.