When touring through America’s poorest localities, if an individual looks up at the streetlights or rooftops, they will find a small box or dish. These tiny devices are called ShotSpotter recorders. These are basically acoustic sensors that have algorithms to identify gunshots within a vicinity.
Such devices when placed in a locality, help contact the designated police officers immediately. The American Criminal Justice system has been outsourcing some of the most crucial decision when associated with algorithms, and computer code. ShotSpotter being one of the highly popularised police technology still proposes some flaws to the system.
ShotSpotter acoustic gunshot detection technology is increasingly adopted, and relied upon for crucial decision making. Prosecutors also largely rely on ShotSpotter produced pieces of evidence considering them to provide absolute facts. However, the technology does not support evidences in some criminal trials.
Few of the issues in the company’s techniques to identify gunshots is that it is not entirely driven by technology. The company employees have an ear to observe each potential gunshot detected by the sensors. After listening to the sensors, ShotSpotter employees categorise the technology’s output confirming if the heard noise was in fact a gunshot.
If not, they change the sources of sounds to other loud noises or fireworks. Thus, such a combination of technology-human detection method is considered to introduce human bias into algorithm.
ShotSpotter claims to save lives, and solve cases helping reduce crime rate. However, studies, and surveys do not report any decline in gun violence due to the technology.