Saturday, October 2, 2021

Technology Not a Solution

 J Urban Health 2021 Apr 30. doi: 10.1007/s11524-021-00515-4


Over the past decade, large urban counties have implemented ShotSpotter, a gun fire detection technology, across the USA. It uses acoustic listening devices to identify discharged firearms' locations. We examined the effect of ShotSpotter with a pooled, cross-sectional time-series analysis within the 68 large metropolitan counties in the USA from 1999 to 2016. We identified ShotSpotter implementation years through publicly available media. We used a Poisson distribution to model the impact of ShotSpotter on firearm homicides, murder arrests, and weapons arrests. ShotSpotter did not display protective effects for all outcomes. Counties in states with permit-to-purchase firearm laws saw a 15% reduction in firearm homicide incidence rates; counties in states with right-to-carry laws saw a 21% increase in firearm homicide incidence rates. Results suggest that implementing ShotSpotter technology has no significant impact on firearm-related homicides or arrest outcomes. Policy solutions may represent a more cost-effective measure to reduce urban firearm violence.


  1. So. Even with technology triangulating where the gunfire occurs, Cops are still minutes away. You'd think that with Shotspotter (tm) they'd be able to catch those guns in the act once in awhile.

  2. Paterson NJ has the ShotSpotter system and the local papers here occasionally mention it when it leads to an arrest. Based on what I have read it seems to work if there is a very raid response by police, otherwise the shooters quickly scatter. Among the more amusing arrests are when one thug wants to show off to another thug and discharges his gun and then they stand around while the police show up. This, from my reading of news stories, has happened several times.

    Paterson is not the typical urban ghetto. It is small (8 sq miles) with 160,000 people and is surrounded by much more upscale northern New Jersey suburban towns. Most of its homicides take place within a several block area that is also the area market for illicit drug dealing. It would seem to me that very aggressive policing in that spot would do more to reduce homicides than any technology or gun laws. However in the post George Floyd era that's not likely.