A system designed to detect gunfire in city neighborhoods will be deployed in a pilot program starting next week, Wichita officials announced Friday.
The system will work by using state-of-the-art sound sensors that can pick up and triangulate gunshots, so police can be guided to the site faster and more accurately, said Mayor Jeff Longwell.
“The council’s goal is to have a safer city, period,” Longwell said.
The pilot project to test the system will be deployed in areas of the community with a history of gunfire and residents’ requests to do something about it.
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The locations aren’t being disclosed “to help ensure the pilot project results are not skewed,” the mayor said.
Michael Barnett of the city’s information technology department added that “Part of the concern of releasing the areas is that any pilot area, we do not want to create (a situation) where people migrate and commit their crime a block over.”
“We’re not setting people up to get shot,” he said. ”This isn’t going to create crime.”
Shot detection systems aren’t new. But they are expensive — as much as $88,000 per square mile covered, said police Capt. Wendell Nicholson.
In an effort to save money, the city developed its own system in conjunction with Jason Isaacs, a professor of computer science at California State University Channel Islands.
Nicholson said the sound-detection technology going into Wichita’s system is similar to what the Navy uses to detect prowling submarines.
But while the sensors are highly sensitive, they’re also controlled by sophisticated artificial intelligence so they just pick up gunshots, he said.
The new system won’t be able to eavesdrop conversations, officials said.