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Springs police test audio surveillance system

Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 25, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS – Police in Colorado Springs tested a new tool Tuesday that will help them listen and respond more quickly to the sound of gunfire. The audio surveillance system called FireFLY uses microphones to monitor a designated area for the sound of gunshots. If detected, the system will automatically send alerts to dispatchers.

“It really is about keeping our community safer,” explained Public Information Officer Lt. Howard Black. “It potentially is going to give us quicker response times to possible violent events that might be occurring.”

The project is a pilot program offered through a partnership with the vendor EAGL Technology, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and US Department of Defense. There is no cost to the City.

Lieutenant Black called the system a force multiplier. The acoustic sensors are sensitive enough to distinguish the type of gun used and the alerts come with a Google map location of the approximate area of the shooting.

Ken Hiner, Application and Dealer Support Services Director for EAGL, said the technology at the heart of his product was researched by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012.

“Anytime you have an active shooter event, one of the first challenges with that event is getting the information into the right hands in terms of response.”

What’s unique about FireFLY is that it’s wireless.

“It allows us if we see a trend moving from one part of the city into another part, then we can move this technology into those areas,” Black explained.

For now, the system is being tested in the Valley Hi, Park Hill, and Pikes Peak Park neighborhoods near the intersection of Fountain and Chelton. Black said that these areas statistically experienced the most shootings of any neighborhoods in the city.

“We’re really hoping that this new technology can also be a deterrent,” Black said. “We might think twice before we start firing weapons in the City of Colorado Springs.”

Live gunfire was used during the tests. The department posted warnings on social media and called home phones in the neighborhood in advance of the testing.

The Denver Police Department has used gunshot detection technology since early 2015. As of April of this year, the system had alerted some 3,380 gunshots to DPD officers resulting in 102 arrests and 84 guns recovered.