A survey method giving improvements in weapons fire location systems is disclosed. In an urban system with a distributed array in the midst of many buildings that block signal paths or create echoes, methods are provided to measure signal propagation. A survey or tour of the covered region uses a moving signal source to probe propagation inside the region. Survey results may indicate where more or fewer sensors are needed. Survey results plus current measured noise gives prediction of instantaneous system sensitivity. In addition, multipath propagation may be used to determine a location even when only one or two sensors detect the signal. In such exemplary cases, triangulation may be replaced or augmented by pattern recognition. Further, signals of the survey need not be acoustic impulses such as gunfire, but may be RF signals, or coded continuous signals so that gunfire-like sounds would not disturb citizens in the area.