ShotSpotter, Gunshot Detection System Maker, In Talks with Bay Area Schools

New technology promised to prevent new Sandy Hooks

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    Gunfire detection systems will soon be installed in some Bay Area schools. Scott Budman reports.

    It’s a sign of the times: Gunshot detection technology used in some of the highest crime areas of the Bay Area will soon be used on school campuses.

    Now, a Bay Area company is hoping their technology can help ensure a faster response if a gun is fired inside a school.

    ShotSpotter’s device is already used outdoors on a large scale in several Bay Area cities, including East Palo Alto, Richmond and Oakland, but the technology -- used to locate gun shots -- can now be used inside a building, like a school.

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    The device uses a series of microphones attached to computers to pinpoint where guns are fired. Using it inside schools inside would be a new step.

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    Newark-based SST developed ShotSpotter, a way to almost instantly detect gunshots, pinpoint exactly where they come from, and notify the authorities.

    "Just like our outdoor system, where we put a very precise dot on a map, we’re gonna put a precise dot on a map of a floor plan,” SST CEO Ralph Clark said. “So you’ll know that the first shots fired might have been shot in this particular room versus another part of the room.”

    The new school-based ShotSpotter, called ShotSpotter SiteSecure, would allow police to react to mass shootings in record time, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Police were not notified about the Sandy Hook massacre until six minutes into the rampage.

    SST says it is talking to local schools about installing ShotSpotter, but none have signed up so far. It will cost $15,000 to install, $10,000 a year to monitor.

    Another concern, voiced right away by the ACLU: privacy. Could student voices be heard if this was installed in their school?

    "Let me be clear, these systems detect gunshots and gunshots only,” Clark said. “They only trigger on an impulsive event."

    SST says it is talking with some Bay Area school districts about putting its technology inside local schools. The company says, so far, no deals have been made.

    Deploying the technology throughout Oakland public schools, for example, would cost $1 million -- plus $15,000 per school to set it up, the newspaper reported.

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