Autonomous drones to respond to gunshots in new policing system

ShotSpotter drones

US company ShotSpotter, whose controversial gunfire detection system has been gathering abundant negative press in recent times, is teaming up with an Israel-based manufacturer of autonomous drones Airobotics to provide law enforcement agencies with better situational awareness.

The plan is to offer a complete solution for detecting, locating, and alerting the police to gunfire incidents while providing live drone video footage and stills of the suspected crime scene in Israeli urban areas.

First, ShotSpotter’s network of acoustic sensors will try to identify and locate the sound of gunshots. Then, Airobotics will use the location coordinates provided by ShotSpotter to instantly deploy its drones to the scene and capture critical visual information for first responders. The live feed would then be shared directly with the offices that are en route.

Airobotics is confident this technological solution for dealing with gunfire crime in Israel would bear results. It would also give the Israeli company a chance to realize the full potential of its autonomous drone system that enables aircraft to take off and return to a dedicated docking station for battery and/or sensor replacement and take off again, even in harsh environmental conditions, and all without human intervention.

Also read: Houston firm launches autonomous drone platform for 911 calls

It’s worth highlighting that ShotSpotter, whose technology has been detecting gunfire for law enforcement for 25 years and is deployed in more than 120 cities in the US, South Africa, and the Caribbean, claims its gunshot detections are 97% accurate.

However, a recent 21-month study into Chicago’s use of ShotSpotter has found that 89% of the alerts issued by the company were not related to gun crime, while 86% led to no report of any crime at all. Basically, in less than two years, the City of Chicago ended up spending untold resources in more than 40,000 dead-end ShotSpotter deployments. And this was in addition to the city’s $33 million, three-year contract with the company.

Perhaps getting drones to reach the suspected crime scene before law enforcement vehicles do would help save resources in Israel.

Let’s not forget that the issue of illegal firearms, and in particular shootings, is at the heart of the public debate in the region. Between 2017 and 2020, approximately 5,200 shooting cases were opened but only 575 indictments were filed because in a majority of the cases the shooter was unknown.

As Ralph A. Clark, president and CEO of ShotSpotter, sums up:

Every second counts, and our alerts combined with Airobotics “eyes in the sky” increase the likelihood of locating a victim and saving their life, finding critical evidence and more proactively addressing gun violence in Israel.

Read more: Does your police department disclose why it’s flying drones? This one does

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