LA trials streetlights that can hear gunshots

Compton, famously one of the areas of Los Angeles that suffers the most from gun crime, could soon be seeing senors that can hear gun shots placed on streetlights.

Los Angeles authorities are trailing sensors placed on streetlights that are able to hear gunshots and alert first responders.

New York began using sensors placed on rooftops to listen out for shots a few months ago, however the ones being used in LA are much smaller, small enough to be fixed to light poles.

The sensors are about 1.5 inches in diameter and are being placed on one light pole in every 10 blocks.

Violent crime in the city has been on the increase recently and it rose for the third straight year in 2016 when 290 people were shot dead.

However tragic, this is still a lot less than the amount of people who were falling victim to gun crime in LA a decade ago, when 480 people were killed.

The sensors are taking advantage of smart city technology that has already been installed on 25,000 light poles around Los Angeles.

Wireless controllers have been installed that are able to turn the lights on and off remotely. Sensors are also being used to detect pollution levels and earthquake tremors.

It is hoped that the gunshot sensors will lead to an earlier detection of shootings, meaning that first responders are dispatched quicker, a speedier reaction that will save lives.

The sensors are able to speed up the reaction times of emergency response teams, who can act quickly to resolve shooting incidents and help the wounded.

Communities most affected by gunfire are least likely to call emergency services in the event of an incident, figures say. It is estimated that only 1 in 10 shootings are reported, and when calls do come in, the information is often inaccurate. 

The sensors are just the first step in a programme that might ultimately see cameras installed to support the sound sensors.

Cameras are already used by police in the city in areas that suffer from high gun crime levels, but the information that they collect is handled on a network that is separate from LA’s smart street lighting network.

Los Angeles has already been making considerable savings from falling energy and repair costs prompted by the upgrading of 170,000 of the city’s street lights to LED.

LA has, so far, spent nearly £65 million on their smart streetlight programme. 

In 2015 it was announced that GE Lighting had teamed up with a specialist firm to bring gunshot detection to light fixtures, which would allow gunshot sensors and software to be integrated with GE’s intelligent LED streetlights.

Technology from Californian company ShotSpotter detects and locates gunfire in real time through acoustic sensors and software. Alerts are then broadcast to emergency services, patrol cars and even smartphones, with the precise location, number of rounds fired, multiple or single shooters, and other valuable situational intelligence being offered.