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The DHS Tech Office Develops a Portable Gunshot Detection System

The new gunfire detection tool can be deployed in temporary locations and is designed to reduce instances of false positives.

The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate, in partnership with Massachusetts-based firm Shooter Detection Systems, has developed a new portable gunshot detection system to better assist law enforcement officials in responding to incidents of gunfire. 

According to a Dec. 29 announcement from the directorate, the new system—known as SDS Outdoor—will enable law enforcement officials to more easily deploy the shooting detection technology in temporary locations, including “open-field concerts or pop-up rallies.”

“This new system can be moved by one or two officers without the need for technicians to transport and set up,” Dimitri Kusnezov, DHS under secretary for science and technology, said in a statement. “This mobile capability will help responders approach gun violence incidents with greater awareness, reducing response times and increasing responder safety.” 

DHS said the SDS Outdoor system is a step up from the commercially available and widely used Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System, since it uses two different factors—”the sound and flash of the gunshot”—to identify gunfire, “drastically reducing false positives.”

The creation of the new gunshot detection system came after roughly two years of development, according to DHS, with prototype testing of the technology beginning in January 2022. The Science and Technology Directorate’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory and DHS’s First Responder Technology Program team also conducted a test of the SDS Outdoor system at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in November, with participating law enforcement agencies also providing feedback to enhance the technology’s effectiveness. 

Anthony Caracciolo, first responder technology program manager for the Science and Technology Directorate, said that DHS has passed along the new gunshot detection tool to Shooting Detection Systems to “commercialize the technology and make it available to law enforcement agencies and first responders nationwide.” 

In addition to the new portable gunshot detection system, DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate also highlighted other first responder-focused technologies it has developed in recent years, including a cloud-based mapping tool to “review and analyze indoor floor plans in real-time when responding to incident,” and a presence-of-life radar detection system to “enable officers to safely detect life behind walls, barricades, household objects and doors.”. 

DHS said that the development of these technologies give first responders a “more holistic view of what they are dealing with so they can coordinate their responses accordingly.”