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The pioneering use of gunshot detection technology has so far been successful in suppressing gun violence in Manenberg and Hanover Park. The technology is especially important in communities where much gun violence often goes unreported. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town is pleased to announce that the first deployment of ShotSpotter technology has resulted in a marked decrease in gunshots recorded in the areas monitored: Manenberg and Hanover Park. The technology provides real-time gunshot detection, which includes the exact location that the gun was fired. This information can then be fed directly to law enforcement agencies and emergency services for immediate response.

Gunshot detection technology also provides actionable intelligence detailing the number of shooters and the number of shots fired, and can be used as evidence when prosecuting. Once a shot is fired, the sound waves travel from the weapon and the system uses acoustic triangulation — deduction based on the speed of sound — in conjunction with GPS to locate the shot. This is recorded and relayed with location information to the dispatch centre. The dispatcher’s computer will show a red dot on a high-resolution map.Using proprietary algorithms, the system can also determine if a shot is coming from a moving vehicle, as well as the speed of travel. Under ideal circumstances — night time and at a high dew point — the system can pinpoint a shot to within three feet. Within a minute of a discharged weapon, the police can be deployed to the area with tactical knowledge of how many shots were fired, the approximate location of the discharged weapon, and a good idea of what type of weapon they are facing.

‘Historically those communities who endure the highest levels of gun violence are least likely to report it to the police as they have been desensitised. Further to this, eyewitness reports can be unreliable due to the trauma caused by these incidents. Dispatching officers to an active shooting without all available intelligence is a threat to their safety and also needlessly places the public at risk. The data provided by gunshot detection technology enables intelligent analysis and deployment. With that, law enforcement can move from the reactive to the proactive as the system provides critical information for better, timelier resource allocation,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith

So far, for the month of September 2016, 71 gunfire incidents have been recorded – down from 128 in August 2016 and 211 in July 2016.

‘Although we would need to analyse shooting patterns over a longer period to accurately quantify the impact, the initial success of the technology has been stunning.

‘Not only does the technology empower the police force, but also seems to give the community renewed impetus in the fight against gangsterism. During the pilot project, we saw an increasing willingness from the community to come forward with tip-offs that resulted in arrests and the confiscation of drugs and weapons. Between October 2014 and mid-November 2016 when the pilot ended, Metro Police officers made nearly 30 arrests in Hanover Park, including five for possession of illegal firearms,’ said Alderman Smith

The initial roll-out has not been without complication however, as criminal elements in the monitored areas are now using firecrackers to confuse the system and assess police response times before using their firearms.

‘While this kind of cold-blooded coordination is unsettling, we are very happy that they are having to work that much harder and think that much more carefully before committing these acts of violence. We are confident that the increased chance of being held accountable for their violent actions is having, and will continue to have, a suppressive effect,’ said Alderman Smith.

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