Technology’s Role in Lowering Pittsburgh Violence

Pittsburgh is a wonderful city, with scenic views of bridges, the river, historic buildings and opportunities for professional growth and cultural exposure.  Our city isn’t perfect, however, and the crime level is at its peak.  Gun crime is surging, namely in Pittsburgh’s East End.  That’s why officials have vowed to do something about it.  In keeping with the current trend towards advancing Pittsburgh technology, the solution is high-tech.

Pittsburgh’s Gun Violence

The gunshot-detecting ShotSpotter system is coming to area neighborhoods like Larimer, East Liberty and Homewood.  Ready to shell out $150,000, the city aims to test the technology in Pittsburgh’s Zone 5, joining 80+ other US cities already using it.  A solution is necessary, given the intensity of violent activity, as 33% of gun violence originates in East End neighborhoods.  The month of April alone saw over 10 shootings just in Homewood, including a few which injured police officers.

ShotSpotter in Action

The system that the city plans to implement is technologically-advanced, capable to determining various details of gun crime.  With it, Pittsburgh hopes to reduce the amount of gun violence in the area as well as enhance and increase response of police officers.  ShotSpotter relies on audio and video technology to function.

  • Sensors and Cameras – ShotSpotter’s capabilities are derived from the use of acoustic sensors, which are strategically positioned on the top of buildings.  Cameras are activated as well, providing a visual of what is happening at the scene.  The system is one of precision, picking up on the exact location of fired shots, caliber of ammunition, speed and direction of gunshots.
  • Real-Time Reporting – When gun activity is sensed in an area, ShotSpotter reports it immediately.  Upon gathering the necessary information, police receive the generated report right away.
  • Trend Spotting – When law enforcement are equipped with consistent and high-quality data, police effectiveness improves.  Using generated records, these officers gain the ability to observe system trends, noticing specific days (of the month, of the week) and timeframes during which gun crime spikes.

The sensing device definitely has potential.  Indeed too much crime takes place in the area, and if a Pittsburgh has technology available that is capable of aiding us in ways that our manpower cannot, it should be put to the test.  There’s no concrete way of telling how beneficial ShotSpotter will be to Pittsburgh until it’s in place.  However, if results in other places are any indication, such as the 67% gun crime decrease in Wilmington, NC, Pittsburgh could be in for major improvements.