N.J. Cops Install Gunshot Detection System - InformationWeek

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8/22/2005
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N.J. Cops Install Gunshot Detection System

Police are deploying technology that uses acoustic sensors, radio frequencies, and triangulation to pinpoint the location of gunfire.

Police in one New Jersey city are hoping to rely less on sketchy reports of shots fired and more on technology that uses acoustic sensors, radio frequencies and triangulation to pinpoint the location of gunfire.

Police in East Orange announced the installation of SECURES Gunshot Detection System this week.

A half dozen other cities are using the technology. Most are applying the technology in a covert manner and have requested non-disclosure, according to George Orrison, director of marketing security technologies for Planning Systems Incorporated.

The technology is not used to locate explosions from bombs but could be developed for that purpose if demand rises, Orrison said in an interview Monday.

"It is possible but not with the current sensor type configuration," he said.

Planning Systems Incorporated, of Reston, Va., provides battery operated sensors that can distinguish gunshots from other city sounds, including engine backfires and fireworks. The sensors, produced using ISO 9001:2000, are housed inside gray boxes.

The standard system includes at least 100 sensors, for one square mile. Sensors are generally located at every intersection. They can be mounted on utility poles, street lights and buildings.

Individual sensors transmit small data packets to a receiving unit with an RF antenna. The system tags the time and date. Once several sensors have relayed the information, the differences in arrival time are used to triangulate the location of the gunshot.

Within five seconds, a flashing icon displays the location and nearest street address on a GIS map. The wireless, portable, IP-based system, allows access and monitoring by dispatchers inside police stations, by officers in patrol cars, from aircraft, and via handheld devices.

The dispatcher's screen has tools to collect data, provide audio and visual alerts, zoom automatically to the location, display time and date tags, list geographical coordinates and identify the nearest street address.

The system's sensor grids and networks can be customized for precincts, districts or neighborhoods. They can also be modified for high incident areas.

Data can be maintained and used to help identify trends and develop crime-fighting strategies. They're also expected to speed up police response times, while improving the ability to locate where shots are fired.

An XML output feature and open API interface is included, allowing interface to CAD, RMS and closed circuit surveillance systems.

Companies can lease the equipment for six months for as little as $25,000. It can cost up to $125,000 for the standard system, or more if computer upgrades are required.

The system can also be embedded into OptiSoft Intelligent Traffic Signal (ITS) Platform. PSI, an employee-owned company that has obtained more than 400 government contracts, is working on detection of explosions and car collisions.

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