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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Cracking the Enigma: AI’s Gunshot-Detection Accuracy Revealed

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In Short:

New York City’s comptroller found that only 13% of ShotSpotter system alerts were confirmed as gunfire. Champaign and Chicago canceled contracts with Flock Safety and SoundThinking. Study shows police respond faster but there is no reduction in gun-related crimes with gunshot sensors. NYC comptroller recommends NYPD not renew SoundThinking contract. San Jose will continue using Raven system despite low reporting rate to police. They hope it will help solve more crimes and reduce gun violence.


New York City Comptroller’s Audit Reveals Low Accuracy of ShotSpotter System

Recently, New York City’s comptroller released an audit report on the city’s ShotSpotter system, indicating that only 13 percent of the alerts generated by the system could be confirmed as gunfire over an eight-month period. The auditors criticized the lack of transparency from the NYPD regarding the accuracy of ShotSpotter, describing the department’s accountability measures as inadequate.

Contract Cancellations in Champaign and Chicago

Following the audit, Champaign and Chicago decided to cancel their contracts with Flock Safety and SoundThinking, respectively.

Accuracy of Raven System

Josh Thomas, senior vice president of policy and communications at Flock Safety, defended the Raven system, stating that it is over 90 percent accurate at detecting gunshots. He highlighted that Raven alerts officers to gun violence incidents they may not have been aware of otherwise.

Studies on Gunshot Detection Systems

Research by Eric Piza from Northeastern University showed that police responded faster to shooting incidents when automated alerts were received from gunshot detection systems. However, there was no significant reduction in gun-related crimes in areas with gunshot sensors.

Recommendations and Responses

The New York City comptroller recommended against renewing the $22 million contract with SoundThinking without a comprehensive performance evaluation. Meanwhile, San Jose’s Digital Privacy Office suggested that improvements in accuracy were needed if the Raven system was to be continued.

Future Use of Gunshot Detection Technology

Despite the challenges highlighted in the audits and studies, police departments like SJPD remain committed to using gunshot detection technology. The aim is to leverage the technology for solving more crimes and increasing apprehension efforts to ultimately reduce gun violence.

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