This past week a new technology surfaced that could help revolutionize the way police forces respond to dangerous situations. The technology is called ShotSpotter and it is a gunshot detection system that could help police locate and respond to gunshots all around the globe. From a control room in California, technicians were alerted to shots being fired in Milwaukee, over 2,000 miles away. In under 4 minutes, the entire process was complete, the gunshots were identified, the location acquired, the police alerted and maybe most importantly, the police arrived on the scene. This technology could put an end to the main problem with emergency response nowadays, timing. All too often an emergency is identified but it takes too long for an ambulance, a fire truck or a police car to arrive on the scene to help those in trouble.
The way the technology works is that throughout cities in the US acoustic sensors are placed in buildings, on utility poles and other structures which are able to triangulate gunshot sounds and send an alert to control centers in the area. From there the police are contacted and respond to the scene. In the case of the shooting in Milwaukee, the technology was able to pinpoint the location of the shooter and when police arrived, they found shell casings just 17 feet from where ShotSpotter located the shooter to be standing.
This all sounds really good to me in terms of the safety of citizens and should aid in getting help to those in need faster. But as with almost everything regarding technology, the sense of privacy of citizens gets called into question. As I read this article the thought of the concept of Big Brother came to mind and I wondered whether or not this technology would be capable of picking up conversations and would violate our right to privacy.
What do you guys think? Will this help those in need more than it will hurt our privacy? Should we be concerned with violations of privacy if lives can be saved?