Chicago rethinks gunshot detection technology.

1 min read


  • Chicago decided not to renew its contract with ShotSpotter, a company that uses technology to detect gunshots.
  • While the technology aims to reduce gun violence, research shows it has not been effective in many cities.

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Chicago has recently made the decision to end its contract with ShotSpotter, a company that utilizes technology to detect gunshots in an effort to reduce urban gun violence. Despite being used in over 150 cities across the US, recent research has questioned the effectiveness of ShotSpotter in actually reducing gun violence. While some cities like Cleveland, Seattle, and Little Rock continue to show interest in the technology, others like Atlanta, Charlotte, New Orleans, and San Antonio have discontinued its use. The decision to discontinue ShotSpotter in Chicago came after Mayor Brandon Johnson called the technology “unreliable” and an investigation showed that ShotSpotter alerts rarely led to concrete evidence of a gun-related crime. The city plans to decommission the software in September and focus on more proven strategies to combat violent crime.

The debate over ShotSpotter’s efficacy has sparked discussions in other cities as well, with some like Portland deciding not to use the technology due to its high cost and lack of significant impact on reducing gun violence. Critics of ShotSpotter argue that the technology wastes valuable resources by reallocating officer time and funds away from more effective community outreach programs. Despite these criticisms, some cities like Richmond, California, have seen success in using ShotSpotter to lead to arrests and confiscations of firearms.

As cities continue to grapple with rising gun violence numbers, it is essential to evaluate tools and strategies that have been proven to keep communities safe. While ShotSpotter may have potential, there is a lack of concrete evidence to support its effectiveness in reducing gun violence. City officials, law enforcement, and researchers must carefully weigh the pros and cons of using technologies like ShotSpotter to ensure that limited resources are allocated efficiently towards crime prevention and community safety efforts.

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