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IACP 2016: ShotSpotter gunshot alerts now available on mobile devices

The new ShotSpotter mobile app is designed to provide timely situational awareness information to speed up officer response time and improve safety



This weekend at IACP 2016 in San Diego, ShotSpotter executives will be pressing the flesh and touting a newly unveiled feature to their existing gunfire detection service that will allow officers away from their patrol cars — while on foot patrol or while taking a report, for example — to receive alerts on smartphones and tablets via a mobile application available for both the iOS and Android operating systems. ShotSpotter will also be pointing to a new internet browser user-interface that delivers this critical information to a computer desktop via the web.

This effectively means that any officer, anywhere, can have virtually real-time gunfire alerts, increasing officer safety and potentially leading to faster response times to shooting incidents. Not only will they have location data almost immediately at their fingertips, the mobile app also enables officers to have visibility into incident time, number of rounds and the location with a highlighted evidence search area. In addition, officers can play the audio of the gunfire incident. For officer safety, the information is displayed in a low-light user interface on the mobile device.

“These always-on push notifications of gunshot incidents are instantly sent to a user’s mobile device in real-time so that department personnel never miss an alert — no matter where they are or what they are doing,” read a recent company announcement about the new feature.

With ShotSpotter, officers can arrive at the scene of a crime faster, and they will have an increased level of safety knowing exactly where the crime is happening because the precise location of the shooting event has already been qualified. In many cases, an officer can arrive with the shooter still live on the crime scene. Officers even have access to the gunshot alerts while off duty.

Ralph A. Clark, CEO of SST, said in a statement, “Going mobile provides broader reach and deeper engagement to critical real time gunfire data that law enforcement needs to address violent crime quickly and effectively. Our mobility initiative has been inspired and informed by key user and market feedback.”

South Bend Indiana Police Department has been beta testing the mobile app for several months, and by all indications, have positive feedback.

SBPD Captain Tony Bontrager said in a statement, “The ShotSpotter mobile app has helped us to be more proactive in responding to gunfire incidents because we get the information we need quickly and can decide the best way to respond. The app is very straightforward and easy to use and lets us know the address and how many shots are fired. We get the information live — anywhere, anytime — without having to exclusively rely on dispatch to call us or take the time to log on to a system.”

It is important to note that the new mobile app is not meant as a replacement for 911 dispatch centers, but to work in tandem with call centers. Using ShotSpotter allows law enforcement to ensure that they can respond to every gunshot incident, many of which go unreported. According to Jennifer Doleac of the Brookings Institute, most people don’t bother to call 911 after hearing gunfire in neighborhoods besieged by criminal activity. Based on data in the areas most impacted by gun violence from January 2011 through June 2013 in Washington DC, only 22 percent of gunfire incidents resulted in a 911 call. With ShotSpotter, information on every gunfire incident is captured and then shared with the police.

Interested individuals who are in attendance at IACP 2016 in San Diego can visit ShotSpotter at booth #1425, or visit their website for more information.

Doug Wyllie writes police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug was a co-founder of the Policing Matters podcast and a longtime co-host of the program.