NEWARK, Calif., July 31, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ShotSpotter, Inc. (SSTI), the leader in solutions that help law enforcement officials identify, locate and deter gun violence, today announced the results of a privacy audit on its gunshot detection service conducted earlier this year by the non-profit Policing Project at the New York University School of Law. The audit concluded that the risk of voice surveillance is extremely low. The Policing Project’s report also offers several recommendations for actions ShotSpotter could take to make it even more privacy protective and these recommendations have been implemented by the company.
The Policing Project audit required access to all aspects of the operation of ShotSpotter’s gunshot detection service and full editorial control of the report. It focused on the possibility that the technology could capture voices of individuals near acoustic sensors, and conceivably could be used for deliberate voice surveillance. However, the report notes that there are important design frameworks and operational safeguards built into how ShotSpotter operates to prevent this from happening. For example, the audio that sensors pick up is only temporarily stored, and then only a very select amount of audio is retained only if the computer algorithm and human reviewer confirm a gunshot. All other audio snippets are routinely purged from ShotSpotter’s systems. In addition, the audio review and retention process is centralized within the company. Neither law enforcement customers nor outside third parties have access to extended audio or can determine what audio snippets to download and retain.
Although the risk of voice surveillance was deemed extremely low, the Policing Project recommended several modifications to further strengthen ShotSpotter’s privacy protections, including decreasing the length of stored audio, improving internal controls for ShotSpotter employees accessing audio for post-incident research, and making it clearer to customers that the company will not provide extended audio or broadly divulge the location of sensors.
“In subjecting itself to this audit, ShotSpotter has demonstrated commendable commitment to having its technology critically examined, and to modifying it to balance public safety with individual privacy,” said Barry Friedman, Policing Project Faculty Director. “Other policing technology companies should follow ShotSpotter’s leadership and proactively embrace their responsibility to protect individual liberty with their products.”
Friedman also underscored the conclusions in the report: “While it is surely possible that ShotSpotter sensors will, on occasion, capture some intelligible voice audio related to a gunfire incident, we have little concern that the system will be used for anything approaching voice surveillance.”
“We have been quite intentional over the years to invest in and evolve our technology to protect privacy in the communities we serve, and the Policing Project has confirmed our approach is on target,” said Ralph A. Clark, President and CEO of ShotSpotter. “The Policing Project at NYU Law has also helped us fine-tune our approach. We have implemented their recommendations to further minimize privacy risks while providing a valuable service to help police better protect communities facing systemic gun violence.”
Disclosure: ShotSpotter President and CEO Ralph Clark is a member of the NYU Policing Project Advisory Board and ShotSpotter compensated the Policing Project for time and travel expenses associated with the audit.
About NYU Policing Project
The Policing Project at the New York University School of Law is a dynamic, growing organization dedicated to working with communities and police across the country to promote public safety through transparency, equity, and democratic engagement.
About ShotSpotter Inc.
ShotSpotter (SSTI) provides precision-policing solutions for law enforcement to help deter gun violence and make cities, campuses and facilities safer. The company’s flagship product, ShotSpotter® Flex™, is the leading gunshot detection, location and forensic analysis system, and is trusted by over 100 cities. ShotSpotter® Missions™ (formerly HunchLab) uses artificial intelligence-driven analysis to help strategically plan patrol missions and tactics for maximum crime deterrence. ShotSpotter has been designated a Great Place to Work® company.
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