Shotspotter Blog

New Year’s Eve at ShotSpotter

New Year’s Eve is a busy time at ShotSpotter; celebratory gunfire on holiday periods is a known concern for communities worldwide.  Advance planning to prepare for the large increase of activity at ShotSpotter is an intensive, cross-departmental effort that begins more than one month prior to the event and involves frequent, regular communication internally to fine-tune procedures and ensure readiness for the anticipated surge of gunfire. 

While our customers are briefed as to what they can expect, steps are taken at ShotSpotter to prepare for the rise in gunfire incidents and fireworks around the New Year.  Staffing during New Year’s Eve, as measured from 6:00 AM PST on 12/31/2014 to 6:00 AM PST on 01/01/2015, is quadrupled . In addition to routine 24×7 staffing of the Incident Review Center, staffing of other departments is modified, adding 24-hour presence of Engineering and IT to back up our normal contingent of Customer Support professionals.  Several incident review stations are added to allow more personnel to review alerts at the same time. All members of Customer Support, the Incident Review Center, Engineering and IT work at least an 8 hour shift.  They work closely together to monitor sensors, audio downloads and incidents, ensuring that events are reviewed quickly and provided to the law enforcement agency in a timely manner. (And, we serve amazing food and get unannounced visits from senior executives checking in our welfare!)

And the actual gunfire we see during the time, unfortunately, does warrant the extra planning and personnel.

During this 24-hour time period, acoustics experts in our Real Time Incident Review Center received and reviewed 9,192 (explosive?) incidents from ShotSpotter’s domestic and international customers.  Of these incidents, 2,762 incidents were gunfire and of those, 2,344 were multiple gunfire incidents (two or more rounds fired).  Nearly 85% of the gunfire events on New Year’s Eve involved multiple rounds being fired.  Over this 24-hour period, 383 incidents were reviewed per hour on average.  Each Incident Review Operator averaged 766 incidents during his/her 8-hour shift — an average 96 incidents were reviewed per person per hour.

The busiest time of incoming incidents was from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM PST, corresponding to midnight to 1am on the East Coast.  A total of 1712 incidents were received during this hour, and 611 of those incidents were confirmed to be gunfire.  During this one hour time frame, there were nine Incident Review Operators on duty who reviewed 29 incidents per minute.  With the large amount of incidents during this hour, an average of 190 incidents were reviewed per Incident Review Operator per hour. 

Below is a graph of incidents that were reviewed by the Incident Review Center from December 31, 2014 to January 1, 2015 by hour.  The red represents gunfire and the blue represents non-gunfire incidents such as fireworks, construction in progress and the occasional car backfire. 

Through the hard work, cooperation and communication of the ShotSpotter Team, our law enforcement agency customers were notified of nearly 2800 gunfire incidents during the 24-hour time period around the New Year’s Eve holiday.  Despite adding new agencies to our customer base and expanded miles to the areas monitored by ShotSpotter, the number of gunfire in December 2014 dropped 18% from December 2013.  Planning has already begun for the multiple holidays that will generate celebratory gunfire in 2015.

We at ShotSpotter remain dedicated to providing accurate and timely gunshot information to our law enforcement customers, even — or especially — during these challenging peak times.

January 27, 2015
By: Michelle Rippy, Manager, Incident Review Center