Seattle eyeing high-tech solutions to gun violence

SEATTLE -- The city of Seattle is considering some high-tech help to solve its problem with guns.

On Thursday, city leaders will hear about ShotSpotter, a system that uses sound to stop gun violence. The City Council Public Safety committee will meet with representatives from the California-based company at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

The special briefing will look at the technology, which uses custom-installed acoustic sensors to pinpoint the precise location of gun shots as soon as they are fired. Software triangulates the sound, and an acoustics expert analyzes that data to dispatch police to the exact spot of the gunshots, according to a brief description on the city's website.

The technology is currently in use in 58 different US cities, according the company. The city of Boston started using the system in 2007.

"We're hoping to stop gunfights and people using guns in the city of Boston," a Boston police representative said at the time the system was installed. "We're hoping to do that by showing up in crime scenes in a timely fashion, arresting the individuals, able to identify witnesses who might be in the area."

While the system has seen success in capturing criminals in many cities, it was recently called into question in New Haven, CT. Authorities there have struggled with false reports or with the system failing to register actual gunshots.

Seattle is looking at a potential pilot program that would install ShotSpotter in specific neighborhoods in the city.

Thursday's meeting takes place in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.