San Diego

New Technology at UC San Diego Promises a Quick Emergency Response

ShotSpotter detects gunfire at its origin and alerts authorities in real time

A new technology called the ShotSpotter has been installed on the campus of the University of California, San Diego.

As its name indicates, the technology promises to pinpoint gunshots and quickly notify authorities.

The city implemented ShotSpotter in several San Diego neighborhoods it at a cost of almost a quarter of a million dollars a year.

NBC 7's questions to UC San Diego about cost and where the university is getting the money went unanswered Wednesday.

In a statement, UC San Diego's Campus Police Chief David Rose, said, in part:

"There has not been any specific incident that prompted the university to install the ShotSpotter system...It is a proactive measure to increase campus safety."

ShotSpotter promises to detect gunfire and explosions within 20 feet of the origin, and alert authorities in real time, bypassing 911 or dispatch systems.

It is a series of strategically placed audio receptors. The sensors capture data and a recorded audio file and then send it to the company's incident review centers. Experts review the data and can even add extra information such as whether there are multiple shooters or if is a high capacity weapon being used.

An alert with a map and location information is sent to emergency dispatch and other authorities in seconds.

In his statement, Rose said, "The technology, used by municipalities, universities and critical infrastructure applications, will enhance security for the UC San Diego campus, enabling a more rapid response."

After a further inquiry, NBC 7 did get some answers to its questions Friday afternoon.

In an e-mail, Judy Piercey, a spokesperson for UC San Diego said the ShotSpotter system has a one-time installation fee estimated at $46,000. The annual lease (recurring), maintenance and 24/7 monitoring cost about $71,000.

The funding comes from the UC San Diego annual operating budget.

In response to if the university considered other ways to spend the money to enhance safety, and why the Shotspotter was chosen, given that shootings on campus are rare, Piercey wrote:

"UC San Diego Police Chief David Rose likens the ShotSpotter gunshot location and detection system to fire alarm systems in all of the campus buildings. You install them and hope to never have a fire, but if you do – the detection and subsequent warning may save lives. ShotSpotter, like fire alarm systems, is a preventive measure to ensure the security and safety of the UC San Diego campus community. If even one life is saved, it is worth every dollar."

Piercey also wrote the sensors are installed throughout campus and "cover approximately 2-square-miles, which includes the UC San Diego main campus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and all ARCH Housing properties (including Mesa and La Jolla Del Sol). Alert Data is shared with SDPD (Northern Division) on a real-time basis."

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