We are about to send a letter to the City to propose a privacy oversight board. Accompanying it will be a fact sheet about ShotSpotter, the gunfire location service. Why ShotSpotter? Because the company has been mentioned as a possible solution to the recent shootings in the CD and elsewhere. In general, Seattle Privacy is skeptical of technological quick-fixes for deep social problems, so we did some digging about ShotSpotter, and here are the results:
But also: A SpotShotter Gallery
The company doesn’t like to reveal what their expensive and dubiously effective equipment looks like, so here’s a remedy for that!
Watch out, bird. We are listening. And looking. And probably irradiating you.
Whoa! This is a nice shot.
In the last three years, gunshot detection sensors in Newark went off 3,632 times, and 17 shooters were arrested on scene. But for more than half of the sensors in Newark, there is no accompanying camera for several blocks. That leaves officers with insufficient information to act. “So you might get a vehicle taking off, you might pick up somebody discharging a weapon,” Carpenter said. But catching the person who fired the weapon? “Very rare, because you would have to have cameras in every corner of the city in order for that to actually work.” It costs Newark taxpayers about $80,000 a year to maintain the current system. But critics argue the total cost is much more than that, given the way police respond when a detector goes off. Since 2010, 75 percent of the gunshot alerts have been false alarms. But police are often deployed to the location anyway, just in case there is a shooter.