What gunshot detection would mean in Portland

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 3:45 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Portland is still considering using gunshot detection technology.

SoundThinking, which owns ShotSpotter, is one company that is being considered. Old Town is one area in the mix to have that technology in place.

Some have wondered exactly how the technology would work if implemented. FOX 12 got detailed information from SoundThinking director of public safety solutions Ron Teachman.

SEE ALSO: Many voice concerns over Portland’s potential adoption of gunshot detection tech

Any gun shots that happen in ShotSpotter’s coverage area are picked up by sensors. Teachman said they try to install enough to get the best results.

“The number of sensors is determined basically by topography and architecture,” he said. “Some applications are more challenging than others.”

Teachman said government-owned buildings and property are the first choice to place sensors. After that, they may need to ask for permission from private owners.

“They map that out, we outline it,” he said. “Then our engineers go about determining what rooftops are available.”

Teachman said they like to have between 15 and 25 sensors per mile. But they tend to go on the higher end in case some go down over time.

“Overbuilding at the beginning to make sure we have sufficient density to provide that service level agreement that we’ve contractually guaranteed,” Teachman said.

Then there’s the moment the sensors detect gunfire. The alert is sent to a review center where someone confirms it came from a gun.

“We see if the sensors are participating with linear directionality or in an omnidirectional pattern,” Teachman said. “The former is more likely gunfire.”

Teachman said they guarantee the whole process of receiving possible gunfire and then confirming it in under a minute.

Once this is all completed, Shotspotter sends an alert out to multiple destinations. It goes to local dispatch centers, police chiefs and sheriffs, officers’ computers, cell phones, smartwatches and any other device they may have.

“What ShotSpotter does is it gives an automatic notification to the police if a shot fired occurs in what we call our coverage area,” Teachman said.

SoundThinking charges by the square mile of its coverage area and is responsible for the maintenance and operating the service.

Teachman says over 27 years in business, it has improved its capabilities.

“We’re always improving the service to our customers while trying to maintain an affordable price so we can enhance the public safety response,” he said.

There is a town hall meeting for considering gunshot detection systems on Tuesday, but still no definitive timeline from the city on when it might make a decision.