Hi-Tech Sensors Could Keep Streets Safe

Dennis Faas's picture

Five years ago, if you asked some of the people who resided in the Lenox neighborhood of New Jersey what they feared most, most of them would probably say drug dealing, prostitution solicitation and the occasional gunshot.

It's a far step from the average person's fears, which might include rush-hour traffic or putting on weight over the holidays.

However, the small suburb of Lenox had become so infested with criminal behavior that police were no longer being called to respond to most of the illegal activities taking place in the area. New Jersey police had tried a number of solutions to rid the town of its unfavorable reputation, with no luck.

They finally found their answer in the implementation of some modern crime fighting technology.

As a last ditch effort, officers hung cameras equipped with the latest gunshot sensors up on utility poles throughout the city. A total of 18 cameras and 93 sensors covered the 10-square kilometer area. (Source: technology.canoe.ca)

The sensors themselves are about the size of a coffee can and are remarkably sensitive and accurate. They are able to notify dispatchers of the gunshot location within 18 meters of the initial area of firing. The sensors are even able to decipher between a gunshot and a loud firecracker.

These revolutionary devices are rapidly becoming visible in most major U.S. cities.

The cameras and sensors allow for a "Virtual Community Patrol" system whereby residents who live in the roughest parts of the city are given access to a website that shows a panoramic view of their neighborhood through the cameras, so they can use their computers to report crimes in progress. (Source: canadaeast.com)

At police headquarters, a team of dispatchers will also monitor screens that look through the cameras, which they can then move in every direction and zoom in up to five kilometers away, allowing them to relay any potential problems to patrol cars in the area.

The standard asking price for a city to implement the new technology is roughly $150,000, with most "pilot cities" being given a considerable price break as a demonstration of its effectiveness for other cities. One community with just over 240,000 residents recently paid $987,000 for 100 sensors to be erected in the worst parts of their city. (Source: technology.canoe.ca)

While a bit costly, the sensors are apparently a worthwhile venture. In all areas using the camera-and-sensor concept, crime has been drastically reduced by at least 40 per cent.

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