ShotSpotter gunshot detection

August 2021
Updated: January 2022

A new AP investigation suggests gunshot detection company ShotSpotter has 'serious flaws' in its technology that call into question its effectiveness and value, and undermine the company's marketing claims.

Used by police departments across the US to accelerate their response to gunshot incidents, AP's investigation finds ShotSpotter's system is unreliable, can miss live gunfire directly under its microphones, and misclassify car backfires and firework sounds as gunshots.

ShotSpotter's refusal to reveal how its algorithm works raises concerns about the credibility of its technology when used as courtroom evidence, and the fairness of judicial outcomes.

Reports also indicate the company has been altering police evidence in a manner that prejudices legal processes and could lead to unfair legal outcomes.

Operator: Chicago Police Department; New York Police Department; Multiple
Country: USA
Govt - police
Purpose: Detect gunfire
Technology: Gunshot detection system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Effectiveness/value; Dual/multi-use
pacity: Governance; Black box; Marketing