Acoustic gunshot sensor technology may help shooting victims, says study

October 25, 2017 //By Rich Pell
Acoustic gunshot sensor technology may help shooting victims, says study
A study by surgeons at the University of California, San Francisco-East Bay (Oakland, CA) has found that acoustic gunshot sensor technology may benefit shooting victims.

As cities are becoming increasingly "smart," the number of installed sensors for monitoring various conditions - such as traffic, lighting, pollution, and structural integrity issues - are proliferating. Among the many sensor types being installed are acoustic sensors - typically microphones - for detecting noise levels, and, specifically in many cases, the sound of gunshots.

Such acoustic gunshot sensor technology promises to help accurately locate shooting scenes and potential gunshot victims by using the readings from several such sensors in an area to essentially "triangulate" the location of the sound of a single gunshot or multiple shots. However, say the authors of the study, the technology's effectiveness at helping to save lives had not been studied until now.

"Our key finding was that the use of these acoustic gunshot sensors showed promise as a system that may benefit gunshot victims," says Magdalene A. Brooke, MD, a lead study author of the study, and a general surgery resident at University of California San Francisco-East Bay.

The researchers analyzed 731 cases of gunshot victims, 192 (26%) of whom were identified with acoustic sensor technology. The study found that while the sensor-identified victims generally had more severe injuries, spent more time in the hospital, and were more likely to need an operation, their death rate was not significantly different from the typically less-severely injured victims who were identified with conventional policing methods.

"We found that gunshot victims whom we could connect to a gunshot sensor activation experienced decreased prehospital time and emergency medical service on-scene times compared with those who were presumably discovered due to standard policing methods," says Dr. Brooke. "These patients also experienced a similar mortality to the control group despite having higher injury severity scores, suggesting that this method of alerting police may lead to better than expected outcomes."

According to Brooke, while the sensor technology doesn't necessarily change the way trauma centers receive notification of gunshot victims, the study


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