NYU Audit Determines ShotSpotter Offers Solid Audio Privacy Protection

ShotSpotter, which helps law enforcement officials identify, locate and deter gun violence, and a 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, is pleased to announce ShotSpotter has been nominated to compete in the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program from AST.
ShotSpotter, which helps law enforcement officials identify, locate and deter gun violence, and a 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, is pleased to announce ShotSpotter has been nominated to compete in the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program from AST.

ShotSpotter, a leader in solutions that help law enforcement officials identify, locate and deter gun violence, a 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, and a returning competitor in the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program, is excited to announce the results of a privacy audit on its gunshot detection service conducted earlier in the year by the non-profit Policing Project at the New York University School of Law.

shotspotterShotSpotter is the most widely used gunshot detection technology in the United States, currently operating in nearly 100 jurisdictions across the country.

ShotSpotter has been operating for nearly 20 years, and during that time, some have raised concerns about the potential for ShotSpotter sensors being used for targeted voice surveillance by law enforcement.

(See a brief overview of how ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection Works. Courtesy of ShotSpotter and YouTube. Posted on Jul 29, 2019.)

The audit concluded that the risk of voice surveillance is extremely low, and the Policing Project’s report offered several recommendations for actions ShotSpotter could take to make it even more privacy protective – which have since been implemented by the company.

The Policing Project audit required access to all aspects of the operation of ShotSpotter’s gunshot detection service as well as full editorial control of the report.

The audit 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 highlighted important design frameworks and operational safeguards which have been built into how ShotSpotter operates to prevent this from happening.

For example, only temporarily storage of audio picked up sensors, of which only a very select amount of audio is retained, and only following positive confirmation by the computer algorithm and human reviewer that a gunshot was fired.

All other audio snippets are routinely purged from ShotSpotter’s systems.

Additionally, ShotSpotter’s 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 which audio snippets can be downloaded and/or retained.

Although the risk of voice surveillance was deemed extremely low, the Policing Project recommended several modifications to further strengthen ShotSpotter’s privacy protections, which included decreasing the length of stored audio, improving internal controls for ShotSpotter employees accessing audio for post-incident research, and making it even more clear to customers, that the company will not provide extended audio or broadly divulge the location of sensors.

Barry Friedman, Policing Project Faculty DirectorBarry Friedman, Policing Project Faculty Director, NYU
Barry Friedman, Policing Project Faculty Director

“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,” stated 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 as follows:

“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.”

Ralph A. Clark, President and CEO of ShotSpotter
Ralph A. Clark, President and CEO of ShotSpotter

“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,” explained Ralph A. Clark, President and CEO of ShotSpotter, and a member of the NYU Policing Project Advisory Board.

“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.”

(Learn More. See how ShotSpotter is partnering with police and hospitals to get gunshot wound victims to trauma centers faster. See the amazing work done by Cooper Health and Camden Police. Courtesy of ShotSpotter and YouTube. Posted on Jan 23, 2019.)

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.

NYU Policing ProjectTheir privacy assessment of ShotSpotter comes on the heels of another Policing Project report – the first report from Axon’s AI and Policing Technology Ethics Board (of which Friedman is a member).

This report, produced by the Policing Project on the Board’s behalf, led to Axon’s commitment to not proceed with the development of face matching products, including adding these capabilities to body-worn cameras.

These engagements with ShotSpotter and Axon are two rare examples of private companies taking steps to invite outside, independent audits of their products and changing their practices and policies based on those assessments.

It is the Policing Project’s hope that this type of open audit and assessment—whether performed by us or by others—will become the norm for companies selling technologies to governments and policing agencies.

We hope other policing technology companies will follow SST’s example and proactively embrace their responsibility in protecting individual liberty.

Read the full ShotSpotter report, go to www.PolicingProject.org/shotspotter.

(Learn more about the Policing Project at NYU Law. Courtesy of the NYU School of Law and YouTube.)

ShotSpotter Key Features Include:

ShotSpotter Incident Review Center (IRC)
ShotSpotter Incident Review Center (IRC)
  • Detects, locates and alerts on gunfire in less than 60 seconds

  • Acoustic experts filter out false positives

  • Tactical intelligence provided for patrol officers

  • Detailed location data aids in evidence collection

  • Improved evidence collection feeds your NIBIN program

  • Near real-time reports support on-scene witness and suspect interviews

  • Forensic reports provide court-admissible evidence for prosecution

  • Simple, affordable subscription service — no IT integration required

ShotSpotter Returns to Compete in 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program


2018 ASTORS Gold

  • Best Gunshot Detection System

    • ShotSpotter


The Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program is specifically designed to honor distinguished government and vendor solutions that deliver enhanced value, benefit and intelligence to end users in a variety of government, homeland security and public safety vertical markets.

William "Bill" Bratton, former police commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Boston Police Department (BPD) and former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), will speak at the 2019 'ASTORS' Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East 2019, on Wednesday, November 20th, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center (Courtesy of Teneo Risk)
Bill Bratton, former police commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Boston Police Department (BPD) and former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), will speak at the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East 2019, on Wednesday, November 20th, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center (Courtesy of Teneo Risk)

The 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program drew an overwhelming response from industry leaders with a record high number of corporate and government nominations received, as well as record breaking ‘ASTORS’ Presentation Luncheon Attendees, with top firms trying to register for the exclusive high – end luncheon and networking opportunity – right up to the event kickoff on Wednesday afternoon, at the ISC East registration!

Over 130 distinguished guests representing National, State and Local Governments, and Industry Leading Corporate Firms, gathered from across North America, Europe and the Middle East to be honored among their peers in their respective fields which included:


  • The Department of Homeland Security
  • The Federal Protective Service (FPS)
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • The Department of Homeland Security
  • The Department of Justice
  • The Security Exchange Commission Office of Personnel Management
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Viasat, Hanwha Techwin, Lenel, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, Verint, Canon U.S.A., BriefCam, Pivot3, Milestone Systems, Allied Universal, Ameristar Perimeter Security and More!

The Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards is the preeminent U.S. Homeland Security Awards Program highlighting the most cutting-edge and forward-thinking security solutions coming onto the market today, to ensure our readers have the information they need to stay ahead of the competition, and keep our Nation safe – one facility, street, and city at a time.

Proud Sponsors of the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program include ATI SystemsAttivo NetworksAutomatic Systems, and Desktop Alert.

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Time is Running Out to Receive the Recognition Your Organization Deserves!

 Enter the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Today at https://americansecuritytoday.com/ast-awards/

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Access Control/ Identification Personal/Protective Equipment Law Enforcement Counter Terrorism
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Submit your category recommendation for consideration to Michael Madsen, AST Publisher at: mmadsen@americansecuritytoday.com.

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See the 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Champions Edition – ‘Best Products of 2018 ‘ Year in Review’ for in-depth coverage of the outstanding products and services of firms receiving American Security Today’s 2018‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards.’

And be sure to Register Early for the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Luncheon at ISC East 2019 to ensure your place at this limited- space event!

Jack Pontius, Director, ShotSpotter
Jack Pontious, Director, ShotSpotter accepting the company’s 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Award at ISC East.

Why the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program?

American Security Today’s comprehensive Annual Homeland Security Awards Program is organized to recognize the most distinguished vendors of physical, IT, port security, law enforcement, and first responders, in acknowledgment of their outstanding efforts to ‘Keep our Nation Secure, One City at a Time.’

Why American Security Today?


American Security Today is uniquely focused on the broader Homeland Security & Public Safety marketplace with over 70,000 readers at the Federal, State and local levels of government as well as firms allied to government.

The old traditional security marketplace has been covered by a host of security publications that have changed little over many years.

American Security Today brings forward a fresh compelling look and read with our customized digital publications that provides our readers with solutions to their challenges.

Our Editorial staff provides a full plate of topics for our AST monthly digital editions, AST Website and AST Daily News Alerts.

The editorial calendar and AST’s high drawing website features 23 different Technology and Marketing Sectors such as Access Control, Perimeter Protection, Video Surveillance/Analytics, Airport Security, Border Security, CBRNE Detection, Border Security, Ports, Cybersecurity, Networking Security, Encryption, Law Enforcement, First Responders, Campus Security, Security Services, Corporate Facilities and Emergency Response among others.

These sectors are part of the new integration, where these major applications communicate with one another in a variety of solutions to protect our cities and critical infrastructure.


AST has Expanded readership into vital Critical Infrastructure audiences such as Protection of Nuclear Facilities, Water Plants & Dams, Bridges & Tunnels, and other Potential targets of terrorism.

Other areas of concern include Transportation Hubs, Public Assemblies, Government Facilities, Sporting & Concert Stadiums, our Nation’s Schools & Universities, and Commercial Business Destinations – enticing targets for extremist or lone wolf attacks due to the large number of persons and resources clustered together.

ShotSpotter logo

The company’s flagship product, ShotSpotter® Flex™, is the leading gunshot detection, location and forensic analysis system, and is trusted by more than 90 cities.

ShotSpotter® Missions™ (formerly HunchLab) uses artificial intelligence-driven analysis to help strategically plan patrol missions and tactics for maximum crime deterrence.

(See a 3 minute summary of our crime forecasting and patrol management software. Courtesy of ShotSpotter and YouTube. Posted on Jan 23, 2019.)

Shotspotter Detects Over 107K US Gunfire Incidents in 2018