ShotSpotter gunfire detection system

August 2021
Updated: November 2021

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 reports that 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 say the company has altered police evidence in a manner that prejudices legal processes.

Operator: Chicago PD, NYPD
Country: USA
Govt - police
Purpose: Detect gunfire
Technology: Gunfire detection algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Effectiveness/value; Dual/multi-use; Marketing - hype
Opacity: Governance; Black box