South Africa uses new tech to fight vicious gun violence

21 September 2018

Computing

As gunshots ring out in one of South Africa's most dangerous neighborhoods, a new technology detects the gun's location and immediately alerts police.

South Africa is the first country outside the United States to implement the "shotspotter" audio technology, which is also being used to fight wildlife poaching on the other end of the country in Kruger National Park.

The technology's use in Cape Town's notoriously violent Cape Flats area has contributed for the first time this year to a conviction in a gang shooting. Police hope more will follow.

"About 13 percent of gunshots are reported by the public. Now we respond to every single incident, very rapidly," said City of Cape Town Alderman J.P. Smith, who instituted the technology in the Manenberg and Hanover Park neighborhoods in 2016. "It's accurate to between 2 meters and 10 meters (6 feet to 33 feet) of where the shot was fired."

The recovery of illegal guns has jumped five-fold in the areas where the shotspotter is used, Smith said. The technology also provides accurate data about gun violence.

The technology operates by acoustic sensors which are placed throughout a neighborhood and Cape Town plans to expand its use from the current 7 square kilometers to 18 square kilometers (3 sq. miles to 7 sq. miles).

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