Most major cities around the world are prone to violence in one way or the other. It’s been proven that police officers alone are not good enough to keep crime under control, especially when some officers are walking hand-in-hand with corruption.
Additionally, there’s no police force on the planet that can respond quickly every time to reports of shots being fired among other things. Therefore, probably the best way to aid officers is to get drones on the job.
Just imagine a future where a single or few gunshots can alert a drone to quickly fly to the scene in hopes to capture the perpetrator on camera before he or she escapes. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
Well, it would, but then there are instances where it could become a problem for some.
RoboCop Drones are Coming to Louisville… Maybe
Here’s the low down, Louisville is working on a program that could connect drones to ShotSpotter. Now, if you’ve been living on Mars for most of your adult life, then you might not have heard about ShotSpotter, a program listens for gunfire via microphones placed throughout Louisville.
The program being proposed by officials could make for a safer city, but that’s still up for debate at this time.
To get a hold of the ShotSpotter technology, the city of Louisville has to shell out $1.2 million for a subscription back in 2017. Now, the service works by calculating the location of gunshot sounds with three microphones, and then that information is sent to the nearest police station.
So far, the system has been adopted in major cities such as New York and Washington, D.C.
Louisville is taking this system a bit further by considering the idea of taking advantage of the FAA’s U.S. Unmanned Aerial System Integration Pilot Program. Yes, it’s a federal program that pairs private drone companies with local government for important projects.
As it stands, Louisville appears to be the only city that’s planning to link drones with ShotSpotter, and that’s making privacy advocates uneasy.
“From my perspective, actually having the city blanketed in stationary cameras is a bigger privacy concern since those cameras are always on and always rolling,” the city’s Metro Chief of Civic Innovation Grace Simrall told WDRB. “We concluded that if we could leverage camera technology, we could get much faster to the scene of a crime, specifically the detection of a gunshot.”
Here’s What Privacy Advocates are Saying
Senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, Rachel Levinson-Waldman believes this plan could lead to unequal surveillance of communities with low income. She says the ShotSpotter software was installed in minority neighborhood in the past, which means, the city would likely do the same with these RoboCop drones.
“Similarly, it seems quite likely that these are the neighborhoods that are going to end up with these drones flying overhead, and drones that are collecting information for police purposes but are being collected by a private third-party company, which may have even less accountability in some ways,” she said.
It should be noted that ShopSpotter isn’t perfect because at times it has mistaken fireworks for gunshots. The good news is, instead of police officers coming on the scene, which could make matters worse, drones will be sent.