UA’s ShotSpotter costs $189,000, detects gunfire instantly

TUSCALOOSA, Ala (WIAT) — University of Alabama Police will add a tool to their arsenal that can detect the precise location of a gunshot instantly. UA becomes one of 8 universities in the country to invest in the technology, which cost $189,000 and will go live next week.

UAPD Chief John Hooks touted the investment as a fire alarm for police officers saying “The ShotSpotter system is very similar in that way. If it detects the sound of a gunshot, it relays that to officers and we can respond very quickly. That’s a very positive thing.”

The City of Birmingham also uses the technology to span 20 square miles of the Magic City. Birmingham first started the project in 2007, before expanding it’s reach in 2016. The technology works through sensors that are placed at various locations around an area. Those sensors can measure the distance to the shot fired and dispatch officers to the precise location.

UA’s ShotSpotter system is comprised of 69 sensors placed around campus and the immediate surrounding area. It detects the unique audio signature of a gun blast and can differentiate between other explosion sounds, like car backfire or fireworks.

“It’s a proactive thing. We don’t want to just sit back and wait for something to happen and then try to address it,” Hooks added.

The system will undergo testing on Monday in 2 secure locations, which will include up to 40 test gunshots by police to ensure the sensors are working correctly. Police will be present and aware of the testing to ensure the public understands there is no danger to them.

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