The City of Wichita is launching a Gunshot Detection System (GDS) pilot project which uses sensors to locate where gunfire occurs. Wichita is the first city in the world to use this particular technology system.
The acoustic sensors will be installed next week throughout Wichita. The locations were chosen based on crime data collected over the past three years and requests from residents in the selected areas. The exact locations are not being disclosed to help ensure the pilot project results are not skewed.
“We don’t want to create an event where people migrate and commit their crime one block over,” Michael Barnett, Smart City coordinator for the City of Wichita said.
The sensors can pinpoint gunfire within a one-square-mile area. When a gunshot is detected, multiple sensors will determine the location, time, date, type and direction of the gunfire. This information will be transmitted within seconds to Sedgwick County 911 Dispatch and officers will be directed to the area.
“I do want to make sure that everybody understand how significant this is. Usually, these projects are on the east or west coast in larger cities. So to have these in the city of Wichita is a big deal,” chief information officer Mike Mayta said.
The one-year pilot project will consist of several phases. The accuracy of the sensors is expected to improve after each phase of the pilot project.
The sensors will also give officers more situational awareness when responding to calls. Patrol east bureau captain Wendel lNicholson cited a study that says only one in five unlawful gunshots are reported to police.
“We’ll be able to go out and see if it was an actual gunshot. See if there were any victims and investigate and see if there’s any crime that had been committed,” Nicholson said.
The Community Safety grant is funding the GDS pilot project which costs around $5600.
“If this technology enables us to get to people that are committing crimes faster and potentially get them off the streets, check that box. Ultimately we want a safer community, period,” mayor Jeff Longwell said.